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Article: XMRV at the NIH State Of Knowledge Workshop (SOK): The Mikovits Coffin Debate

Discussion in 'Phoenix Rising Articles' started by Phoenix Rising Team, Apr 10, 2011.

  1. Cort

    Cort Phoenix Rising Founder

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    That is what I am saying. In fact its what I said - this is the next paragraph

    He finds Coffin's theory pretty compelling but he still can't figure out why nobody has been able to find contamination. That's why this is so confusing and why he is waiting for the other studies to come out.
  2. asleep

    asleep Senior Member

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    Actually, Alter was saying that a particular piece of evidence (i.e. Coffin's preXMRV work) was convincing. You have extrapolated this well beyond the context as him making a statment about his overall opinion on XMRV. Or at least you have implied this quite strongly.

    It is perfectly normal for one to hold a piece of evidence as strong, but consider the overall weight of evidence as pointing in a different direction. You have selectively ignored the great lengths Alter went to to point out how rigorous they were in ruling out contamination. They found nothing with both of Coffin's IAP tests as well as the far more sensitive mitochondrial DNA test. He specifically pointed out that the possibility of contamination does not mean it necessarily happened. Furthermore, when Coffin's presentation was done, Alter was overheard saying "Is that all you've got, John?"

    Yet, you have ignored all of this and instead taken a small snippet of Alter's discussion out of context and extrapolated it beyond any reasonable interpretation. The end result is your portrayal of Alter as "leaning toward contamination." This appears, sans verification, to be a manufacturing of reality.

    Lastly, if your memory of the discussion is fuzzy, perhaps it is better to not comment on it at all than to present a potentially false and damaging synopsis of it as truth.
  3. Enid

    Enid Senior Member

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    End of my visit to this thread until personal attacks on Cort Johnson (who provides us with so much ceases). Anyone with a modicum science can deduce the current research difficulties - facts matter , opinions don't.
  4. SOC

    SOC Moderator and Senior Member

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    I'm reading both Dr Alter's statement and Amy Dockser Marcus' interpretation entirely differently from what I believe to be your reading, Cort.

    I hear that Dr Alter finds convincing the idea that XMRV was accidently created in a lab in the 90's, but he doesn't agree with the conclusion Dr Coffin has drawn that XMRV findings in ME/CFS patients are the result of contamination.

    That is a critical difference to patients.

    Dr Alter is saying, I believe, that while it is looking likely that XMRV (specifically) is a lab-created retrovirus, evidence still supports that a majority of ME/CFS patients are infected with XMRV (or it's near relatives).

    The questions then become: 'How were we infected?' and 'Is this infection the primary infection or a secondary infection?'

    I think there may be some semantic issues that I'd like the scientists to clear up. For example, when Dr Coffin wants to dismiss research on XMRV, does he mean the very specific non-variant XMRV or does he mean all the closely related (and variant) retroviruses found by Alter/Lo and more recently by WPI?

    A very interesting question -- Could the prostate cancer connection indeed be flawed because the labs were detecting only contaminants (non-variant XMRV), while the ME/CFS connection to HGRVs be correct? Isn't the variation of HGRVs found in ME/CFS patients much greater than that found in PC patients (or do I have that wrong)? Just speculation, but a mighty slapdown for Dr McClure if true.

    Maybe people been getting infected with some PMLV for many years, but we didn't figure it out until Dr Mikovitz started looking for XMRV and found XMRV in some folks and very-very-similar-but-not-exactly-the-same PMLVs in many others.

    I don't think Dr Alter is anywhere close to abandoning the idea the PMLVs closely related to XMRV are highy associated with ME/CFS.
  5. Ernie

    Ernie Senior Member

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    Including himself and Dr. Lo, they did not find contamination. You made the comment that he is leaning towards contamination and said that he told you and reporters. Amy did not blog that he said anything of the sort. Neither has anyone else.
  6. Cort

    Cort Phoenix Rising Founder

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    With regards XMRV I did add this to the end of the sentence "and somehow got into the WPIs samples." - so yes, in that case you are right. On the other hand I also reported his difficulty reconciling the claims of contamination.

  7. Ernie

    Ernie Senior Member

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    No first you said this: Dr. Alter on XMRV and MLVs- in conversation and at one point during his moderation Dr. Alter stated he is now personally leaning to the idea that XMRV was accidentally created in a lab and somehow got into the WPIs samples.

    Which did not happen. then you said this: At one point my recollection is that that he did say on the podium that personally he felt the Coffin arguments to be pretty compelling. You are right as well, though, the pieces do not yet fit together for him. I would say he is leaning in the Coffin direction.

    And this you said this: Actually I am taking the words out of his mouth and putting them into the paper. That is what he said to me and some reporters and bloggers. One of them specifically asked him about the variability question - whether he felt the MLV's fit into the broad XMRV picture.

    You said Alter told reporters and implied Amy was there that he said he was leaning towards contamination which is not what Amy wrote at all. Amy: It says that Alter QUESTIONS Coffin's next step regarding XMRV being a result of contamination.

    So which version is it?
  8. Cort

    Cort Phoenix Rising Founder

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    Asleep - I think you are missing the some parts of the paper...I also wrote about Alter this and pointed out that they did both IAP tests.

    I think I reported the conference fairly... here were the main points

    and this from Dr. Mikovits

    During the questions I went right down the question and basically said what they said.

    This
    was a joke as in - after a pretty powerful performance - he asked is that all you've got?
  9. Bob

    Bob

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    I've been following the XMRV story very closely, and I found Cort's article a pretty balanced summary of what I saw of the conference, in relation to the Coffin - Mikovits debate.
    He also reported some useful tidbits of helpful and positive XMRV news that wasn't in the conference video.

    I think we should be careful to separate Cort's work from what he is reporting, when criticising the article.
    Otherwise it's very confusing for everyone reading this discussion.
    So, in other words, if Cort is reporting what he saw and heard, but we don't like what he saw and heard, then that's not a reason to attack Cort's reporting.
    There's always room discussing what the facts are, and this is a good place to do it, but I don't see the need to attack Cort's reporting just because he isn't emphasising or promoting our own particular view point.

    The only bit of Cort's article that I was surprised to read was about Alter leaning towards Coffin's opinion, as this isn't the impression I got from watching the conference.
    In the video, Alter said that he found both Coffin's and Mikovit's work strong (or words to that effect - I can't remember the exact words used), and that he is satisfied that the whole issue will be decided in Lipkin's study.
    He was very careful to sit on the fence in the video (in a balanced scientific way because he knows that he doesn't have the answers), and came across as very open minded. He still fully supports his own (and Lo's research), and said that Mikovit's work is very strong (or words to that effect - I can't remember if he used the word 'convincing' or 'strong' or whatever.) But he also had positive words to say about Coffin's work, and appeared to be very impressed with it.

    I'm very keen on XMRV research to be given all the support it needs, and I was annoyed by Coffin's statement that XMRV should be dropped. This just seemed unscientific. But I think I might understand where he might be coming from. I think he might genuinely have convinced himself, based on the research findings, that XMRV has not spread through person to person infection, is not found in the 'wild' (i.e. it doesn't exist outside of cell lines), and is not found in CFS patients.
    If Coffin were to only consider the recent prominent research, along with all the negative studies, then I think he has a very convincing case.
    But as we have been following Judy's research so closely, then we know that he hasn't incorporated the whole scientific picture in order to come to his point of view. If he had then he would still be open minded about XMRV.
    But I believe that he could have come to his decision about XMRV, honestly, purely based on the research which he has been involved with, along with the negative studies and the Hue paper etc.

    The recent negative XMRV research (or what I consider to be negative) is actually very strong (as far as I understand it). But it is not definitive, and doesn't prove anything about Mikovits' research. Personally, I am still convinced by Judy's research, based on the entire scientific picture. (I don't include all the negative XMRV studies, when I talk about 'strong' negative research, but I'm talking about the Hue paper, and the recombination paper, and the prostate cell line paper.)

    Alter is very much in favour of the Lipkin study deciding the outcome of the science, and this is what he is relying on to settle the issues. He was careful not to take sides in the conference video.
    I think there's not much point in us arguing about some of these issues, because it will all be played out in the science.
  10. markmc20001

    markmc20001 Guest

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    Glad to see the general consensus is most people believe there appears to be SPIN in this article written by Cort. Also some funny business with Coffin wanting to leave XMRV behind without any scientific support for reaching his conclusion. Coffin hasn't proven that XMRV hasn't infected humans! The consensus is that XMRV does infect humans.

    Hard to imagine XMRV is getting a fair shake when articles we read are loaded with SPIN, and retro virologists are claiming they want to move on from XMRV without proving it can't infect humans, or hasn't infected humans. Which is what the current consensus is of course.
  11. Rrrr

    Rrrr Senior Member

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    cort, you wrote this in the article: "She [Mikovits] suggested that a few amino acid alterations in the LTR regions of the virus (as I remember :)) would be enough to make the antiretrovirals that are currently available ineffective in humans."

    can you tell what this means?

    thanks!!!!

    rrrr
  12. Cort

    Cort Phoenix Rising Founder

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    I wish I could :)...what it meant to me was that the fact that antiretrovirals aren't having as positive an effect in patients as they are in the lab against XMRV could be due to very small changes in the amino acid structure of the strain that a person has; ie you can't really use the fact that most people aren't getting well on them as a reason that XMRV is not there - they will need more tweaking...
  13. asleep

    asleep Senior Member

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    Cort, I am aware that you mentioned some of these things after claiming that Alter is now leaning toward contamination.

    In the parlance of logic, it is known as poisoning the well. Or, one could liken it to sprinkling a few flower seeds of truth in a field that has just been salted with hearsay and napalmed with innuendo.

    Perhaps it was a joke. I do agree that Coffin did some terrific performance art, though. Quite the dramatist. Seemed a bit out of place at a scientific conference, but I digress.
  14. Bob

    Bob

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    He did say that on the video, but it was meant ironically.

    If he had been serious, it would have been a pretty barbed comment, and that isn't in his nature.
  15. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    Cort, I hope this isn't off-topic as I can't remember whether Dr Mikovits said it after her debate with Dr Coffin or later, but at one point in a discussion period she said that regardless of whether people think XMRV is a contaminant or not, patients can't wait three years for Dr Lipkin's study results to come in and it's time to start right now with clinical trials of antivirals, even if not antiretrovirals.

    This, of course, is of huge interest to all of us. Was there any further comment off-camera about that that you can pass on?
  16. Cort

    Cort Phoenix Rising Founder

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    I removed this statement from the article

    so that I will sleep better:). It is my strong recollection that he does not believe in the family theory and he was directly asked -- something to the effect of ...weren't the MLV's supposed to simply reflect more of XMRV's variability.. and his answer was that he now guessed not. I'm going to stick with that. It is my recollection...I don't have tape on that (I forgot to turn my recorder on until later) and if it's wrong it's wrong and I apologize.

    On the other hand Dr. Alter did in conversation mention the two reasons that have struck him... the passage of the cell line through mice and the lack of genetic variability in XMRV... the second in particular suggests XMRV is not a human pathogen. If Dr. Mikovits can somehow get that genetic variability data out into publication, that would, as I have noted change everything. Other than that its up to those studies.
  17. Cort

    Cort Phoenix Rising Founder

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    Like I said I wish I had remembered to turn on my recorder....but my impression that they are moving very strongly in that area. They feel that that's the next step and that's what they are concentrating on. I don't remember anything specific about treatment trials or specific drug companies. They are both completely confident in XMRV. Its really quite stunning to see the confidence on both sides :).
  18. gracenote

    gracenote All shall be well . . .

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    I encourage everyone to watch the YouTube videos of what these different researchers actually said. From what I saw, I did not think Alter was "leaning" towards XMRV being a contaminate. He was very moderate in his moderation. And funny, too.

    And what the heck? Coffin thinks people with ME/CFS are really ill and that there may be a different retrovirus involved why is this not a headline? The point really is to find the cause of this disease, so let's maybe try to find the cause. It's almost assumed by some that a retrovirus is involved in our illness (but maybe not XMRV). To me that is news. That is a shift in the dialog. So let's find the darn thing.

    And truly, this supports the WPI hypothesis and all their research to date. That is the story.
  19. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    No he sure hasn't.
    If it's a lab contaminant, then why do people have antibodies for it?

    There is such resistance to new information in people like Coffin. He's like the Catholic church in the middle ages... you know the one that placed Galileo under house arrest for pointing out that the earth revolved around the sun. :rolleyes:
  20. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    I already posted this video once, but here it is again, for those who didn't notice.

    At 6:55 Alter says: "The fact that contamination can occur, and nobody doubts that, does not men that it has occurred in any given laboratory. There is as yet NO DIRECT EVIDENCE for contamination in either the Mikovits lab or the Lo laboratories."


    [video=youtube;hWN3rkbXCm4]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWN3rkbXCm4[/video]

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