WASHINGTON - A VIRUS linked to prostate cancer also appears to play a role in chronic fatigue syndrome, according to research that could lead to the first drug treatments for a mysterious disorder that affects 17 million people worldwide.
Researchers found the virus, known as XMRV, in the blood of 68 out of 101 chronic fatigue syndrome patients. The same virus showed up in only 8 of 218 healthy people, they reported on Thursday in the journal Science.
Judy Mikovits of the Whittemore Peterson Institute in Nevada and colleagues at the National Cancer Institute and the Cleveland Clinic emphasized that the finding only shows a link between the virus and chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS, and does not prove that the pathogen causes the disorder.
Much more study would be necessary to show a direct link, but Dr Mikovits said the study offers hope that CFS sufferers might gain relief from a cocktail of drugs designed to fight AIDS, cancer and inflammation.
CFS impairs the immune system and causes incapacitating fatigue, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
Sufferers can also experience memory loss, problems with concentration, joint and muscle pain, headaches, tender lymph nodes and sore throats. Symptoms last at least six months and can be as disabling as multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis, the CDC said. -- REUTERS