Ridiculously complex is right! It appears we're talking here about viruses that subvert and hide from organisms' immune defences, in an ongoing war with those immune systems, such that they end up getting written into the organisms' DNA and, if successful, become a part of organism itself. It's the stuff of life itself, the code of how we evolve, and this is the front line of that war, so we shouldnt expect it to be simple...
Regarding antibodies...I think it's been said that there's a theoretical indirect risk to the antibody findings based on the contamination theory, because if the XMRV were a contaminant, then the antibody tests are validated against that contaminant, so they might not be exactly what you think they are.
Doesn't really make sense to me, because surely the bottom line is: if patients, more than controls, are showing up on the antibody test, then they have to have antibodies to something
, and whatever it is, even if not technically XMRV, precisely, that finding has got to be really significant and worth following up.
What's so extraordinary to me about the 'contamination theorist' side of the debate, is they seem to have no interest whatsoever in getting to the bottom of what's actually going on with the patients. Their only interest seems to be in shutting the whole area of research down, on technicalities that the results aren't exactly 100% what they appear to be, if they can. In other words, "Oh they can't have found XMRV, because that doesn't show up on standard single-round PCR, so whatever they did find, we should just forget about the whole thing". I just find their attitude impossible to comprehend, on a human level.
Anyway: if a reproducible antibody test can consistently find different levels in patients vs controls, then we are there, surely? Even if it weren't XMRV, it would have to mean something significant, and the question of what they are antibodies to would have to be answered.
Then again, we've been here before with biomarkers, high levels of viruses, documented immune abnormalities etc...and those lines of inquiry seem to have been spuriously suppressed just by grabbing a really wide sample of people with fatigue and finding that some of them don't have that marker so it "can't be the answer after all" - even though those same people also believe that the whole spectrum of CFS is a diverse ragbag of multiple different conditions that can't have one single explanation.
That's one of the biggest things I just can't square: how you can simultaneously be saying "X can't be the answer because it's obvious there isn't just one single answer to CFS" and yet also be saying "Y was clearly wrong because in our tests, not everybody has Y, so let's just forget about Y". And how does such illogicality get to survive?
Perhaps I need to read Catch-22 yet again! (Heller's my favourite author by the way, and all the rest of his novels are even better than Catch-22 IMO, so in passing I'll recommend Something Happened, Good as Gold, and God Knows, in particular).