Sunday, December 5, 2010

Read the panned response from Mr. Rice, UK Department of Health.

Those of us involved in the letter writing campaign for worldwide ME/CFS received the same response. Of course, they will not admit to getting caught with their hand in the cookie jar. According to those in a better position than I, these responses are unfounded and untruthful. If you have had your finger on the pulse of XMRV, you will be outraged.

December 3, 2010

Our ref: DE00000566856

Dear Ms Cooper,

Thank you for your email of 9 November to Andrew Lansley about xenotropic murine leukaemia virus-related virus (XMRV) and chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME). I have been asked to reply on Mr Lansley’s behalf.

Whilst the Department of Health agrees with the World Health Organization’s classification of CFS/ME as a neurological condition of unknown cause, it has many different potential causal factors, including those of a neurological, endocrinal, immunological, genetic, psychiatric and infectious nature, which have been investigated, but the diverse nature of the symptoms cannot yet be fully explained.

More research into the causative factors of CFS/ME is needed. The Medical Research Council (MRC) has recently identified and prioritised research topics where high-quality proposals should be encouraged. This exercise involved both experts in the field of CFS/ME and research leaders in aligned areas. Further information on this work can be found on the MRC website at:

Regarding the recent interest in XMRV, its possible role in the causation of CFS/ME remains a source of debate within the scientific community. A recent study in the USA reported that XMRV has been detected in a number of CFS/ME sufferers. The results of this study have not been replicated in Europe. An ongoing research programme characterising XMRV at the MRC’s National Institute for Medical Research recently investigated the basis for this finding. The study, which was funded jointly by the MRC, the Wellcome Trust and the CFS Research Foundation, failed to replicate the findings of other studies in this area and found no association between XMRV and CFS/ME.

In addition, an expert subgroup of the National Expert Panel for New and Emerging Infections (NEPNEI) met in May 2010 to consider all available evidence about XMRV and conduct a risk assessment. The subgroup concluded that XMRV can infect humans but there is currently no evidence that it causes human disease and that, on the evidence before the group, no public health action is required at this time. Since the subgroup meeting in May there has been no new scientific evidence that would change these conclusions. In July, the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO), similarly decided not to recommend further measures at present. Both groups will continue to monitor the situation.

Both NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) and Health Protection Agency (HPA) experts concur with the views expressed by NEPNEI and SaBTO and also recognise the need for further research on the prevalence of XMRV in the UK. In a recent unpublished pilot study conducted by NHSBT/HPA, a series of 540 randomly selected English blood donors were screened for XMRV and none were found to be infected.

I hope this reply is helpful.

Christopher Bird
Customer Service Centre
Department of Health

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