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Retroviruses found in chronic fatigue cases

In a recent study, almost 90 per cent of CFS patients showed signs of infection with a group of mouse leukaemia viruses

In a recent study, almost 90 per cent of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) showed signs of infection with retroviruses, suggesting that antiviral drugs could be used to treat the disease.

In the US government study, researchers identified at least one of four different murine-related leukaemia viruses in 86.5 per cent of the 37 patients with CFS compared to 6.8 per cent of 44 patients without the disease.

The results suggest antiviral drugs including Merck's Isentress (raltegravir) and Gilead Science's Viread (tenofovir) should be tested for the condition.

The study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, supports findings from last year that linked CFS to a related infectious agent, called XMRV. But they are contrary to last month's report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that failed to find a viral link.

Murine-related leukaemia is a form of an infectious agent known to cause leukaemia and other cancers in mice. Whether it causes diseases in humans is not known.

CFS affects around 17 million people worldwide.

24th August 2010

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