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Reno Gazette: 'WPI vows to get past setbacks' Lombardi talks about those cells...

Discussion in 'Media, Interviews, Blogs, Talks, Events about XMRV' started by Firestormm, Dec 18, 2011.

  1. Firestormm

    Firestormm Guest

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    I couldn't see you chaps have this posted elsewhere but if it is then delete me ;)

    17 December 2011: Reno Gazette: http://www.rgj.com/article/20111217/...t|Local News

    Whittemore Peterson Institute vows to get past setbacks

    'The Whittemore Peterson Institute for Neuro-Immune Disease in Reno made headlines around the world in 2009 when news spread that its researchers had discovered XMRV, a new retrovirus that might lead to breakthroughs in the treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome and other neurological diseases.

    Two years later, aspirations of Reno becoming the mecca of a medical breakthrough that could lead to treatment for chronic fatigue, an illness that affects an estimated 17 million people worldwide, evaporated when the research was discredited.

    But the latest blow came this year when Dr. Judy Mikovits, the Whittemore Peterson Institute's lead researcher behind the discovery of XMRV, was fired in September for "insubordination and insolence."

    n November, she was arrested on felony charges for allegedly enlisting a fellow researcher to steal research notebooks and other proprietary materials from the institute.

    Annette Whittemore, president and founder of the institute, calls the discredited research and Mikovits' arrest "a bump in the road" that will not stop the institute's commitment to finding the cause and, she hopes, a cure for chronic fatigue syndrome.

    "The whole issue, until it is resolved, has a lot of people confused and wondering whether we will be going forward and whether the federal government is still going to be committed," she said, referring to federal research grants and other funding. "There is more federal funding for this disease than ever, and they're deeply committed."

    Two current grants from the National Institutes of Health totaling about $660,000 were made to the WPI, not to Mikovits, Whittemore said, so those funds will remain with the institution.

    More research under way

    The WPI is continuing its research into the underlying causes of neuroimmune diseases, including finalizing two research projects involving gamma retroviruses and several studies related to the innate immune system.

    "We're as committed as ever," Whittemore said. "Ultimately, this institution is looking for the right answers, and nothing else matters. So we are going to continue to do the good work and find the answers to the best of our ability and make sure others can reproduce and confirm that good work."

    Meanwhile, the implosion of the institute's research with XMRV and the firing of Mikovits has frustrated chronic fatigue syndrome patients.

    "I was cautiously optimistic at beginning," said 73-year-old Penny McCracken, a Fallon resident who has struggled with the illness since 1981.

    "I'm just kind of resigned now," she said. "It's like, 'Oo-ha, here we go again.' We've seen promising things fall apart before."

    Hurtful comments

    Whittemore is keenly aware of the disappointment, anger and even mistrust voiced by people with chronic fatigue syndrome who have commented on WPI's website, blogs and other sites on the Internet. In a recent interview at the institute's office, she recently addressed those comments as well as what she said was the real reason Mikovits was fired.

    At the nearly two-hour interview, Whittemore was joined by Vincent Lombardi, who has replaced Mikovits as the WPI's lead researcher.

    Whittemore refuted claims being made on the Internet that Mikovits was fired because the Whittemore family was trying to make money from tests being conducted to detect XMRV in patients with chronic fatigue, but Mikovits opposed the $400 to $650 cost for the tests as being too expensive.

    Whittemore said WPI did not receive funds from the tests, and she said the comment by one person on the Web who called the Whittemores greedy was "very hurtful. Our family has given millions of dollars over the last 40 years in support of charitable organizations, including WPI," she said.

    VIPdx, the Reno laboratory that conducted the tests, is a privately owned laboratory and is not affiliated with WPI, Whittemore said. VIPdx did pay to license the use the technology from WPI to do the testing, but that money was used by WPI to help fund its research.

    And, despite news reports to the contrary, Mikovits was not fired because she refused to share her research cell lines with other WPI scientists, Whittemore and Lombardi said.

    "In fact, those cell lines weren't shared," Lombardi said. "They belonged to me, and she took them."

    Lombardi said he had asked Japanese researchers who had built a cell line to share it with him.

    "When you publish research using a cell line you have developed, then you're kind of obligated to share it with anybody who wants to use it, and they said they would be happy to do that," he said.

    Lombardi said the package with the cell line has his name on it, but it apparently was sent to Mikovits' laboratory.

    "She took them and never told me they came. When I called FedEx to track them down, I found out that she had them. I asked her for them back, and she said 'no' when they weren't even hers. So I talked to Annette."

    Whittemore said she confronted Mikovits, who refused to return the cell line to Lombardi, so she fired her for insubordination.

    "And what she did interfered with (Lombardi's) ability to complete his study," Whittemore said.


    Petitioners support Mikovits

    Mikovits, who is facing a civil lawsuit and criminal charges filed in Washoe District Court, could not be reached for comment. Her lawyer, Scott Freeman, also declined to discuss his client's case.

    And researchers who had worked with her at the National Cancer Institute or were listed as co-researchers on the XMRV article published in Science refused to return telephone calls or hung up when they were contacted by the Reno Gazette-Journal.

    However, Orlando, Fla., resident Patricia Carter has created an online petition in support of Mikovits that garnered about 380 signatures, which Carter said would be sent to the U.S. Senate and the Whittemore Peterson Institute. The petition calls for the institute to "treat Mikovits fairly," return to her any research material that was hers and refrain from taking any legal or other action that would "intentionally damage Dr. Judy Mikovits' reputation of credibility."

    However, Whittemore said Mikovits had signed a contract stating that all research material belongs to the institute.

    Peterson's new center

    Earlier this year, a new research player came onboard in search for a cause and treatment for neuroimmune diseases.

    Dr. Daniel Peterson, the doctor who treated hundreds of Chronic Fatigue Patients during an outbreak in Incline Village in the 1980s, resigned from the Whittemore Peterson Institute that bears his name and opened his own nonprofit research foundation in Incline Village.

    Neither Peterson nor the director of the Simmaron Research Inc. returned repeated telephone calls, but the research foundation's website cites its mission as "playing a key role in bringing science to the clinician to better diagnose, treat and manage patients" who have chronic fatigue syndrome and myalgic encephalomyelitis.

    Simmaron Research is working in collaboration with Sonya Marshall and colleagues at the Bond University of Australia and Konnie Knox with the Wisconsin Viral Research Group.

    K. Kimberly McCleary, president of the Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome Association of America, said the high-profile split with Mikovits at the Whittemore Peterson Institute, the investigation by Science into the XMRV research paper and ensuing legal actions "are of deep concern" to many of those in the patient and scientific communities.

    "Because of the hope that XMRV raised for better care, Dr. Mikovits and the WPI have both attracted considerable support that is now being tested as details of civil and criminal charges are made public," McCleary said. "We remain concerned for the well-being of all who are affected by this dispute and hope that the various investigations will yield an equitable resolution."

    She said her organization will continue to focus on research to improve the diagnosis and treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome, "and efforts to end the life-altering disability, stigma and isolation CFS imposes."

    For 17-year-old Rebecca Ghusn of Reno, who suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome, the failure to link XMRV to her illness is just another false lead in the scientific hunt to find a cause and a cure.

    "You always hope something will happen when they find a lead, but they had lots of leads, so this is just one step forward and two steps back," she said. "And I think the whole XMRV thing was blown out of proportion, but, yes, it was disappointing."

    UNR research untainted

    The WPI is not part of the University of Nevada, Reno, but the institute's office and laboratories are housed in UNR's Center for Molecular Medicine, a state-of-the-art facility that opened August 2010 and to which the Whittemores donated an undisclosed amount of money.

    But the widely reported fact that the XMRV research has been discredited and the lawsuits pending against Mikovits that have now enveloped WPI won't impugn the credibility of the research being conducted by the university's scientists, said Marc Johnson, UNR's interim president.

    "The Whittemore Peterson Institute is located on our campus, although it is independent of the university," he said. "The institute is in the midst of a challenging time, and the university is noted in many media reports as the location of the institute. However, this geographic relationship does not detract from or even relate to the outstanding caliber of work being done by our university researchers."

    Johnson said Annette and Harvey Whittemore have been good friends of the university and have made significant contributions to the community and state.

    "We wish them well in their scientific endeavors," he said.'
     
  2. Daffodil

    Daffodil Senior Member

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    im too sick to care about the politics.
     
  3. taniaaust1

    taniaaust1

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    Thou all that mess is going on, one thing Im very hopeful about is.

     
  4. Wayne

    Wayne Senior Member

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    Hi Firestormm,

    Thanks much for posting this. Good comprehensive article that brings me up to date on a number of items.

    Regards, Wayne
     
  5. Firestormm

    Firestormm Guest

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    WPI prevails over civil lawsuit: http://www.mynews4.com/news/local/s...evails-in-Lawsuit/UdA8q-xp2Ui0UbxkZPRKnQ.cspx

    19 December 2011


    'Reno, NV-- (KRNV and www.mynews4.com)-- Attorneys for Whittemore-Peterson Institute, who filed suit against a former researcher, have prevailed in court.

    WPI filed a civil suit against Dr. Judy Mikovits earlier this year, saying she removed crucial data, computer files and emails when she was terminated in late September of this year. They say she was fired because she took research that belonged to another scientist at the Institute. And after her termination, authorities say, she allegedly sent her former co-workers to her office with orders to remove more data and research.

    "[The research is] irreplaceable," said attorney Ann Hall, who represents WPI. "It is critical to ongoing research and critical to ongoing patient care."

    A Washoe District Court judge has ruled that because Mikovitz failed to follow a court order to return the materials, WPI has prevailed in the civil lawsuit and can now seek damages.

    WPI scientists study neuro-immune diseases like chronic fatigue syndrome. In 2009, they announced they had identified a retrovirus that could be responsible for the mysterious condition. Some of their research was later discredited, although similar results have been found in studies conducted by Harvard University and the National Institutes of Health.

    Mikovits was arrested in Ventura, California, and is facing two felony charges of theft and possession of stolen property. Her attorney, Scott Freeman, says his client "maintains her innocence... She is a well-respected scientist. She is not a criminal."

    Mikovits will be arraigned in Reno Justice Court on January 10.'

    News video embedded in link above.
     

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