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That panel of positive control specimens

Discussion in 'XMRV Research and Replication Studies' started by anciendaze, Jul 5, 2010.

  1. anciendaze

    anciendaze Senior Member

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    The CDC paper in Retrovirology had a rather plaintive paragraph about the absence of a panel of bona fide positive and negative control specimens for XMRV detection assays.

    We have already heard of questions about the 20 positive samples WPI sent to CDC. This did not rate a mention as 'kind cooperation' of competing researchers, a breach of scientific etiquette. Response to a direct question about these results got a classic example of bureaucratic doublespeak in return, before Switzer escaped to vacation without designating anyone else who could respond in his absence.

    Now, the CFS patient advocate is reporting that there was good reason to avoid mentioning those specimens. He says CDC got 20 solid negatives. WPI had taken the precaution of splitting samples and sending the same panel to another laboratory independent of CDC. PA says this group got 19 solid positives, with one specimen in doubt.

    (I must emphasize that, in the absence of coherent answers from CDC, we are dealing with unconfirmed rumors.)

    If this report is even approximately correct, it implies the CDC lab. could not detect XMRV in samples WPI found definitely positive, which another lab confirmed within the limits of experimental error. At this point, we combine this with the published account in the paper to discover that they had evidence their assay was inadequate for the task, then, without modifying their own assay, they created a panel of positive controls they were able to detect. Significantly, they then decided not to confuse the public, or other scientists, with this information.

    (A story about painting bullseyes around bullet holes comes to mind.)

    I can scarcely think of anything more likely to damage the scientific credibility of an organization conducting research. One hopes they will take steps to show they did not hide data falsifying their reported validation of their XMRV assay.
     
  2. V99

    V99

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    My interpretation was that they ignored the 20 samples.
     
  3. Stone

    Stone Senior Member

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    I wonder what the response would be if the other lab published their findings on the positive controls that WPI had sent to the CDC. What might be the result of a joint statement by the WPI and the other lab sent to the journal that published the CDC paper? It was Retrovirology, wasn't it? Just wondering. I don't know all there is to know about how these things work, but it seems that a statement like this would have to be published as a comment on the CDC paper, particularly if it were made public as well, much like Mrs Whittemore's letter some weeks back. What might be a good course of action in the face of this information? Just thinking out loud.
     
  4. anciendaze

    anciendaze Senior Member

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    First, give CDC researchers a chance to release an accurate account themselves. They can put a stop to wild rumors better than anyone else. I want them to have every chance to dissociate themselves from false findings in publications they have approved. I don't believe reputable researchers would tolerate this alleged misconduct.
     
  5. Sean

    Sean Senior Member

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    He he. Very appropriate analogy.

    More seriously, if the story you told is basically correct, then the CDC are in deep deep doo-doos, and they probably know it.

    Despite all the kerfuffle in the last few weeks, I get the feeling all this is the (relative) calm before the real storm breaks.
     
  6. John Leslie

    John Leslie

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    The CDC absolutely tested the 20 samples provided by the WPI and could not find XMRV in the positive samples. I have an e-mail to prove this statement. Ask the CDC to deny this and watch what happens. The reporters covering this story do not know that the CDC had the WPI samples and could not find XMRV. The authors did not report this fact.
     
  7. Megan

    Megan Senior Member

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    John if as you say you have an e-mail to prove this assertion then have you considered giving it to a journalist such as the one from the WSJ to follow up so that they can ask the CDC to rule it out. I must say this is an extroardinary claim if it is true.

    If it is true, then whatever criticisms we may or may not have about the WPI PR, they certainly can't be criticised for being unwilling to share their samples. They have been very open about their willingness to do this. I wonder if the other labs are so cooperative. It seems this is something that certainly needs to happen to get to the bottom of it.
     
  8. LaurelW

    LaurelW Senior Member

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    Did anybody respond to this week's Virology Blog to tell them that? They talk about how Dr. Mikovits should share her samples, so it would appear that they don't have a clue. The other thing that made me livid about that blog is that one of them said, "Everybody needs to calm down." I'd like to see them calm down if they had to live in their bed for years on end. (gnashing of teeth and rending of garments).
     
  9. kwietsol

    kwietsol

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    John, I bet Amy Marcus at the Wall Street Journal would be very interested in that email. Have you thought of sending it to her?
    Amy Marcus <Amy.Marcus@wsj.com>
     
  10. kwietsol

    kwietsol

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    Oops, Megan, I didn't see your post about the WSJ.

    What Megan said.
     
  11. Recovery Soon

    Recovery Soon Senior Member

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    YES!!!!!!!
     
  12. caledonia

    caledonia

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    Yes - send that email to WSJ!
     
  13. thegodofpleasure

    thegodofpleasure Player in a Greek Tragedy

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    I posted a comment about this on Dr Racaniello's Virology blog

    Yes LaurelW, I posted a comment to that effect yesterday. :angel:

    I sincerely hope that Dr. Racaniello latches onto it and then follows up on the story.
    Having him involved in the pursuit of good science, can only be a good thing IMO.

    The aim of of all of this must be to get the CDC to give simple straightforward answers to the obvious questions that are being asked. :Retro mad:

    TGOP
     
  14. glenp

    glenp "and this too shall pass"

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  15. anciendaze

    anciendaze Senior Member

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    We now have reports of another panel of positive control samples from yet another research group being sent to them. Does anyone have a lead on that?

    In the absence of a forthright, coherent and truthful response from the CDC, the PR problem will get worse before it gets better. Researchers who construct positive controls to validate a test which has already failed on real samples have a distinct problem with credibility.

    A second interpretation of their curious procedure for obtaining control samples they felt safe in using is that using samples from prostate cancer patients in Germany, and goats in this country, met administrative objectives of showing absolutely no infected human beings in the U.S. If we don't assume this, we must wonder if there is a shortage of prostate cancer patients here, or if the NCI has become hostile territory.

    A third interpretation of their choices might be even less favorable.
     

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