Chronic fatigue syndrome has been extremely controversial since it was first identified in the 1980s. No cause is known, and many physicians are skeptical that it is even a real medical condition. They have suggested that many sufferers have depression or other psychological problems causing the symptoms of extreme tiredness and chronic pain.
Now, however, scientists in Nevada report that they have identified an obscure retrovirus in the blood of many people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. The retrovirus, called XMRV, seems to affect immune system cells called natural killer cells. Only 4 percent of healthy people had evidence of the virus, while 68 out of 101 people with CFS were found to harbor it. That doesn’t show that the virus causes the problem, but it is certainly an interesting development towards possibly finding a treatment for a complicated condition. The XMRV virus has been linked previously to aggressive prostate tumors.
[Science, October 9, 2009]