Finding the X-Factor in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

The Wall Street Journal's Health Blog asks an important question to sufferers of chronic fatigue syndrome: What's next for X? Writer Amy Dockser Marcus is referring to XMRV, a virus that has been linked to prostate cancer for a few years and, as of a year ago, CFS. There is plenty of debate, though, on just whether XMRV is actually linked to CFS because while some researchers have found the virus in CFS patients, others have found not a trace.

So, to take care of the discrepancies, first all researchers must agree on standards for the test, itself. To that end, Ila Singh, the University of Utah scientist who reported on XMRV in prostate cancer patients last year, published a paper in the journal Viruses outlining steps researchers should take in designing studies into whether XMRV is linked to CFS.

Singh suggests taking a large number of patients into consideration, and to make sure all of them have been diagnosed with CFS according to well-recognized criteria. The healthy controls, too, should be large group taken from the same geographic area as the patients. Also, use more than one method of detecting the XMRV virus.

Kim McCleary, the head of the CFIDS Association of America, a CFS advocacy group, praised Singh's paper, telling the WSJ that it offers "a really strong template for reducing some of the confounding issues in the studies that have already been published."

- here's the report in WSJ's Health Blog
- and here's a link to Singh's paper