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expert reaction to retraction by the journal Science of paper linking CFS with the XMRV virus

A paper originally published in Science in October 2009, claiming to show an association between the XMRV virus and chronic fatigue syndrome, was retracted by the journal.


Professor Simon Wessely, Head, Department of Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London , said:

“It comes as little surprise that this paper has been finally retracted. The results were simply too good to be true. CFS is a complex mulfactorial condition with fuzzy boundaries, and almost certainly does not represent any single entity any more that it is caused by any single agent. What is sad however is the degree of opprobrium hurled from some quarters at the scientists who correctly failed to replicate the original observation. This is not the kind of atmosphere that benefits science or patients.”


Dr Jonathan Stoye, Head of Division of Virology, National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) , said:

“This announcement of an editorial retraction is unfortunate but can come as no surprise. The writing has been on the wall for over a year, ever since the publication in Retrovirology of the group of papers suggesting that contamination could explain the original paper. With the publication of the Blood Working Group report in September, retraction was inevitable. It is important that a line be drawn under this experience and that the search for the real causative agent for this debilitating condition be resumed immediately.”

The retraction was published in the 23rd December 2011 issue of Science.

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