I think there are lots of good issues here. Financing for CFS at the CDC, however, is miniscule - I think it's down to about $3 million a year - they're not spending any real money on it. I imagine the program - given the unhappiness of the patients in the research community towards it - is not worth the little money they're getting for it. I imagine that they'd be happy if it just went away.
While $3 million/year is miniscule at the CDC's burn rate, compared to all HHS extramural grants in the field it is a windfall.
I really don't know the pros and cons of spiking samples with XMRV vs finding it in positive samples of human beings. The CDC did show they could find very low levels of the virus in samples but does it matter or how does it matter where the samples came from. That would be great to find out.
The problem is that DNA floating around loose may well be easier to detect than DNA integrated into cells. The issue involves both sensitivity and selectivity. Being able to detect DNA in an artificial solution is very different from separating it from various components of whole blood. We don't really know their scorecard on those different components. Based on this publication we are generally at a loss to know what took place prior to PCR testing.
...So there was initial testing using positive samples but no testing after that.
What I have said before is that data developed during the validation process were not published in the copy I have. Do you have something I missed?
There is a logical inference concerning the "exclusionary conditions" which was left hanging: if a subset of patients with, e.g. MS, can bias results so that 67% of subjects appear to have the virus, there must be a phenomenal correlation between XMRV and that illness. Does anyone at CDC act like they think they've found the cause of MS? Do they act like they are looking?
Test validation is not merely a concern with CFS, there has been considerable disparity between XMRV results of different labs w.r.t. prostate cancer. This brings in an entirely new line of argument which has apparently escaped those who keep trying to reassure the dumb public that blood supplies are 100% safe. Even if none of us existed there would still be large numbers of people with prostate cancer who might contaminate the blood supply.
Most prostate cancers are slow growing. People often survive for years before the cancer is detected. In the early stages of illness, it is unlikely any discomfort would stop them from donating blood. About 200,000 new cases are discovered every year. Without biopsies, diagnosis is often uncertain. Common clinical tests have both false positives and false negatives. About 2,000,000 people who are known to have had prostate cancer are now alive in this country. Among oncologists the fatigue associated with the disease is notorious, even after tumors are removed. The possibility of concurrent infections has to be taken seriously.
This is relevant because XMRV was originally discovered in some patients with prostate cancer, and is commonly grown in the laboratory on cell lines cloned from prostate cancer. The same uncertainty in detecting XMRV is affecting studies of its incidence in all types of prostate cancer.
Under these circumstances it seems highly unlikely the incidence of XMRV in the general population is 0%, even if it plays no causative role in any disease. Studies reporting 0% may be useful for reassuring gullible people, but responsible public officials ought to know better.
Finally, I want to get back to a point raised before: the CDC are about the last group to be asking plaintively 'who is responsible for providing a panel of positive samples from infected human beings?' What government agency is responsible for monitoring and detecting infectious agents? Irrespective of CFS, what have they been doing in the years since XMRV was discovered? To some it looks like they have been derelict in their duty, and then, when someone else developed a panel and validated a methodology for detecting the virus, they devoted the bulk of their efforts to undermining those with the temerity to find anything infectious ahead of them. Thinking of the toast, "Confusion to our enemies!" it would appear they have classified a remarkable number of medical and scientific professionals as enemies. The general public must be counted in the same list.
The successors of this group at the CDC will now have an uphill battle in gaining cooperation of anyone knowledgeable about this virus. They have managed to take swipes at not just Judy Mikovits, Dan Peterson, and the usual suspects, but also the Ruscetti's, John Coffin, Harvey Alter, and even if indirectly, Robert Silverman. They have probably alienated researchers I haven't mentioned.
The issues have become much bigger than our pitiful CFS/ME community.