FDA/NIH XMRV paper ON HOLD

CBS

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Chronic-Fatigue Link to Virus Disputed

One Research Group Finds Virus XMRV in the Blood of Syndrome Sufferers, One Does Not; Papers Held From Publication

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703374104575337160225739290.html?mod=googlenews_wsj (not my find - thanks sproggle)

It looks like HHS has asked the FDA/NIH to hold their upcoming XMRV paper.

Scientists at the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health, including NIH infectious-disease specialist Harvey Alter, recently finished research that came to a conclusion similar to that of the Science paper—that XMRV, or xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus, is found in the blood of chronic-fatigue syndrome patients.

The paper was accepted for publication in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America but is on hold, according to Ashley Truxon, media coordinator for the journal. She had no further comment.

Separately, scientists at the CDC, led by microbiologist William Switzer, concluded in a paper in another journal, Retrovirology, that they couldn't find XMRV in the blood of people with chronic-fatigue syndrome, according to people familiar with the situation.

Kuan-Teh Jeang, editor-in-chief of Retrovirology, said the Switzer paper went through peer review and was accepted for publication when he got a call from the authors earlier this month. They asked that the Retrovirology paper be held.

"My understanding was HHS [Department of Health and Human Services] wanted to get it straightened out. Both reports are from different branches of the government," Dr. Jeang said.
Withholding two papers in a month. Not the way the science typically works. This MIGHT be OK in the very short term (in the name of finally getting things right as opposed to a big nasty public fight) but I don't think they can't do it for long without being seen as using politics to interfere with science.
 

George

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I stand by my earlier prediction that DHHS is holding the publications of all (there are around a dozen) XMRV research papers until they have testing in place and a better understanding before going public. My feeling is that they are trying to handel things right.
 

Forbin

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In an email between scientists familiar with the situation, viewed by the Wall Street Journal, a researcher said the two teams were asked to put their papers on hold because senior public-health officials wanted to see consensus—or at least an explanation of how and why the papers reached different conclusions, said the people familiar with the situation.
Sounds like they are concerned about the public reaction when the country discovers that 3%-7% of the population may be infected with a retrovirus.

Good.
 

CBS

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Don't know how the HHS plans on dealing with this.

The CDC may have decided to pull their paper on their own (assuming that 'they' are the CDC ):

Kuan-Teh Jeang, editor-in-chief of Retrovirology, said the Switzer paper went through peer review and was accepted for publication when he got a call from the authors earlier this month. They asked that the Retrovirology paper be held.
But it appears that the FDA/NIH paper was pulled because of HHS pressure.

"My understanding was HHS [Department of Health and Human Services] wanted to get it straightened out. Both reports are from different branches of the government," Dr. Jeang said.
If the HHS concludes that the CDC was right and the FDA/NIH got it wrong, they'll never be believed. Interference like this is dangerous as it could be construed as subverting the scientific process. The patient community has such a poor history with governmental agencies (in terms of good faith efforts or appreciating that some patients are running out of time).

Fred Friedberg, who has chronic-fatigue syndrome and is president of the International Association for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, said that because the science on XMRV and the illness wasn't yet clear, it is crucial that data on XMRV be published.
George, I hope that you're right and I hope the HHS realizes the critical urgency in communicating openly with the patient community. Our lives have already devastated by indifference. It's our government too. If nothing else, they owe us the decency of being forthright and doing it sooner, not later.
 

Lynn

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This just makes me sad! I hope you are right, George.

I watched those "professional videos" and it all seems so real to me. I wish they would just publish and move on with the treatments.

Lynn
 

CBS

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I don't think either paper is withdrawn. They are just on hold.
You're right. I've requested that the thread title be changed ('on hold' is more clearer and more accurate than 'temporarily withdrawn').
 

CBS

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Putting the article "on hold" is keeping it out of the hands of the international research community. Whatever the U.S. government thinks it needs to straighten out behind closed doors, it is doing so at the cost of denying the larger scientific community an opportunity to critique and comment upon the science.

Has anything like this ever happened before? HIV?
 

Rrrr

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According to the WSJ, they're just on hold. But as Dr Coffin says in the article, this is unusual. Scientists generally have no problem with publishing conflicting results. I'm guessing it's not the scientists (authors or other scientists in the gov). I think Forbin made a good catch with "senior public-health officials". My guess: the political types in public-health don't feel they're prepared to deal with the fallout of publishing a confirmation of WPI's work. They couldn't ask that the FDA/NIH paper be held and let the CDC paper go without being (justifiably) accused of trying to manipulate scientific results for their own ends. So they asked for both to be put on hold -- probably until they can get their heads out of.... er.... until they can get themselves organized to deal with the public freak-out.

I keep saying we need to wait for the science, that science takes time. This is NOT science, it's politics.

Since the WSJ published this, "senior public-health officials" won't be able to keep this under wraps for long.
please consider posting this in the comments section of the WSJ article!!
 

Rrrr

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Sounds like they are concerned about the public reaction when the country discovers that 3%-7% of the population may be infected with a retrovirus.

Good.

please consider posting this in the comments section of the WSJ article!!
 

Rrrr

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this is just a crazy, politically-driven decision on the part of HHS. we need to email them and tell them it is unacceptable. who do we email?
 

ixchelkali

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Damn.

I keep saying we need to wait for the science, that science takes time. This is NOT science, it's politics.
I agree.

Earlier today in conversation with my husband I accused myself of paranoia for being afraid something like this was happening. Because I just finished reading "And the Band Played On," where politics trumped science at every turn at the Dept of HHS. Everywhere else, too, come to think of it. And it happened with both Republicans and Democrats.

This is not the transparency we've been promised in this administration. I think it's time to start writing to our congressmembers and senators. I'm afraid it could be that they figure with a couple of wars, a recession, and a major oil spill going on, that the country doesn't need any more bad news. We can't let this happen behind closed doors.

Okay, tell me I'm being reactionary, please.
 

kurt

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IS this a political move? I can't imagine that top-tier researchers would let politics over-rule their studies. We care more about CFS politics than they do. Anyway, this is an expected move in a government agency when there is disagreement. No agency, including HHS, wants to display its own scientific disagreement to the public. So they will take the time required to try and explain the disparity. The article just said the HHS wanted to review the situation, and that makes sense, I would do the same in their position.

Also, consider that these researchers are 'industry insiders' so they probably know the results of other unpublished studies. If they could see from all the pending studies which way this issue was going to go, they might have only pulled ONE of the two studies. Holding BOTH studies tells me they are really perplexed, so now they want to review and make sure both studies represent good science, before releasing them.

Hopefully they will reach their own internal consensus view quickly, even if it is just that they agree to disagree.
 

Sean

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Anyway, this is an expected move in a government agency when there is disagreement. No agency, including HHS, wants to display its own scientific disagreement to the public. So they will take the time required to try and explain the disparity. The article just said the HHS wanted to review the situation, and that makes sense, I would do the same in their position.
That is the most likely and most reasonable explanation.

I would rather they took a bit of extra time to sort out any discrepancies, before making any major announcements.
 
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> Anyway, this is an expected move in a government agency when there is disagreement.

Not according to Coffin and the other researchers the WSJ talked to. Coffin's an old man, besides being a National Academy member. This isn't his first or second year (or decade) observing the science scene as a well-placed high-up insider.

This is outrageous.
 

CBS

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> Anyway, this is an expected move in a government agency when there is disagreement.

Not according to Coffin and the other researchers the WSJ talked to. Coffin's an old man, besides being a National Academy member. This isn't his first or second year (or decade) observing the science scene as a well-placed high-up insider.

This is outrageous.
This appears to be government not trusting scientists and the scientific process to arrive at the "right" conclusion on the topic. It must be maddening as a scientist to watch this play out.

Welcome to every day of our lives!