This is an English translation of the article in Volkskrant (1 May 2010) originally posted by Lansbergen in the 'Nijmegen letter to Whittemore' thread. I thought it deserved a dedicated dissection. http://www.forums.aboutmecfs.org/sh...gen-to-Whitemoore/page10&highlight=volkskrant A virus in the blood or not? ME/CFS researchers in Nijmegen en America are quarreling over it. by: Ellen Visser In recent months the U.S. findings on the relationship between chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and a retro-virus were refuted by three European studies. Yet, remarkably enough, the American research caused international blood banks to take measures. Earlier this month, the Canadian organization in charge of the blood supply decided to exclude all patients who were suffering or had suffered from ME/CFS from donating blood. Australia and New Zealand are considering the same step. European organizations are deliberating, a spokesman for the Dutch Sanquin stated. 'The scientific evidence is thin indeed, but we want to keep our blood as safe as possible.' 'Incomprehensible', says Jos van der Meer, professor of internal medicine at Nijmegen University. After the American Whittemore-Peterson Institute (WPI) had found the XMRV virus in two thirds of a group of CFS patients and had published their findings in Science, Van der Meer and his colleagues repeated the study. They found nothing. Earlier two British research groups had come to the same conclusion. But the publication of the Dutch study in the British Medical Journal two months ago did not resolve the matter. WPI is behaving 'extremely unprofessional', says Van der Meer, by treating everybody who criticizes the American results in a very aggressive manner. The decision of the blood banks adds extra fuel to the flames. Two weeks ago WPI director Annette Whittemore sent a letter to the British Professor of Retrovirology Myra McClure. McClure had not found the virus in the blood of CFS patients, and Whittemore invited her to exchange blood samples. She wondered whether the professor had used the right techniques for finding the virus. In the letter, that was published on the site of the WPI, Whittemore wiped the floor with the Dutch study. As it turned out WPI had indeed exchanged blood samples with the Nijmegen researchers and out of ten Dutch samples the Americans identified three samples that tested positive. Furthermore, the Nijmegen researchers had received positive American samples in order to check whether they were able to find the XMRV virus. However, in their published paper the Dutch team kept silent about all of this. Van der Meer calls it 'extremely unscientific' that the integrity of his research team was questioned in a letter to another party. This week Nijmegen sent a letter back to the WPI (which was also published on their (Nijmegens) website). 'It is true that we have sent blood samples to the WPI', he explains. 'The Americans have detected the virus in two of the seven samples that were taken from patients, and in one of three samples from a control group. That means a score of 30% for both groups, in other words: no difference in incidence between patients and controls. We postponed publication and retested the three samples but they remained negative. We saw no reason to readjust our publication.' The Nijmegen team did find XMRV in the positive samples that the WPI had sent to them. In addition they were able to detect the virus in the positive cell line of prostate cancer that was sent to them by the Nijmegen urology laboratory. 'Therefore it cannot be that our method was not right. Moreover, we have used the same method as the Americans have.' International researchers have written letters to Science about the methodological shortcomings of the U.S. study. The letter that Nijmegen sent was accepted. Research should have taken place in at least two different laboratories, Van der Meer says. 'When you work with a particular virus regularly there is a risk that you contaminate your own samples. In the case of positive test results, especially when they are very important, any scientist knows you never should rely on one laboratory, I don't understand that Science agreed to that.' Van der Meer says he has proposed to the WPI to exchange complete sets of samples. 'There is still no response.' Research by, among others, the American CDC's should clarify who is right. The U.S. Department of Health is currently investigating whether XMRV can be transmitted by blood. For the time being, CFS patients can give blood, according to the CDC's website. The question is whether people are doing this, Van der Meer says. Perhaps they are already banned because a good health is a prerequisite for donating blood. Moreover, the last thing CFS patients would want for themselves is to lower their blood hemoglobin, he says. 'I would discourage patients to donate blood'.