Xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) and the safety of the blood supply

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In 2006, a new virus, xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV), was discovered in a cohort of U.S. men with prostate cancer. Soon after this initial finding,XMRVwas also detected in samples from patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). The blood community, which is highly sensitive to the threat of emerging infectious diseases since the HIV/AIDS crisis, recommended indefinite deferral of all blood donors with a history of CFS. As XMRV research progressed, conflicting results emerged regarding the importance of this virus in the pathophysiology of prostate cancer and/or CFS. Molecular biologists traced the development ofXMRVto a recombination event in a laboratory mouse that likely occurred circa 1993. The virus was propagated via cell lines derived from a tumor present in this mouse and spread through contamination of laboratory samples. Well-controlled experiments showed that detection of XMRV was due to contaminated samples and was not a marker of or a causal factor in prostate cancer or CFS. This paper traces the development ofXMRVin the prostate and CFS scientific communities and explores the effect it had on the blood community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)749-757
Number of pages9
JournalClinical microbiology reviews
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2016

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, American Society for Microbiology.


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