Virology Blog - Publication of XMRV papers should not be blocked


Senior Member
United Kingdom

Publication of XMRV papers should not be blocked

The findings by the NIH and FDA that XMRV is associated with chronic fatigue syndrome has been accepted for publication by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Release of the article has been blocked by PNAS due to work carried out by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That study, which was submitted to Retrovirology, failed to find a link between XMRV and CFS. Its publication has also been placed on hold. According to ScienceInsider:

The contradiction has caused nervousness both at PNAS and among senior officials within the Department of Health and Human Services, of which all three agencies are part, says one scientist with inside knowledge.

It is senseless to block publication because the two papers reach different conclusions. If both manuscripts were subjected to proper peer-review, and were deemed acceptable by the referees, then they should be published. The journal editorial offices must respect the opinions of the reviewers. By overriding their decisions, they have compromised the entire peer reviewer process.

Blocking publication also sends the wrong message to CFS patients, to the public, and scientists. Not only does this action raise suspicions about their motives are they trying to publish only the result they believe is correct? but it ignores the very important fact that science is self correcting. Scientists are humans, and they make mistakes. But eventually the right answer will come to the surface. And that is why PNAS and Retrovirology should respect peer review, publish the XMRV papers, and let science correct itself.