XMRV takes another step to de-discovery?

By Carl Zimmer | December 22, 2011 12:01 pm

I’ve written a few times here about the battle over a virus called XMRV, and its supposed link to chronic fatigue system. I just wanted to point this morning to a few articles by some fine writers about the latest twist: the paper that first claimed a link has been completely retracted.

Ivan Oransky in Reuters

Jon Cohen in Science

Ewen Callaway in Nature

[Image: Wikipedia]


Comments (3)

  1. Tum

    I assume that at least the principal authors of the paper – Judy Mikovits and Frank Ruscetti, who designed the study and did virtually all the work – along with Sandra Ruscetti, are not agreeing to retract the study. What does it mattter if other authors, like Silverman and DasGupta whose contributions have already been retracted, agreed to the full retraction?

    Far worse is the general idea of retraction in such cases. YOU DO NOT THROW OUT POTENTIALLY VALID EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS. There is no proof that any element of the remaining parts of the study (after the partial retraction) were invalid.

    No one has published a replication of any aspect of this study. The majority of confirmation studies that have been attempted looked directly for XMRV-specific sequences or antibodies. YET THE EVIDENCE THAT THIS STUDY SPECIFICALLY FOUND “XMRV” HAS ALREADY BEEN RETRACTED, so those studies cannot be said to challenge the findings of the remainder of Lombardi et al 2009. They were misled by Silverman’s data into looking for the wrong virus. However, it is extremely important that the serological and other evidence for the existence of a human gammatretroviral infection in a majority of tested CFS patients remains in publication, as it is unrefuted evidence. So why the retraction??

    If journals can throw out any study whose results other researchers have not confirmed (and have not bothered to replicate) within the first two years of publication, then the scientific endeavor is in deep shit.

  2. Tony Mach

    Tell me “Tum”:

    “The majority of confirmation studies that have been attempted looked directly for XMRV-specific sequences or antibodies”

    Well, it said XMRV on the can! It isn’t XMRV? Oh, g, why didn’t you say so in the first place! So tell me, friend, what is it then? Do you have gene-sequences?

    And how is it Silvermann’s fault?

    And tell me: Why weren’t all test done on all patients and all controls in the 2009 Science paper? Why doesn’t the paper give no explanation for this at all? And why doesn’t the paper say that the tests were done blinded?

    BTW: I see you changed your record and are no longer mentioning the supposed “VP62-calibration”. But you still sound like a broken record and leave the same comment everywhere.

  3. Finally! How much effort was wasted to replicate this faulty work and to persuade the authors to retract the paper!


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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.


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