After a weeks-long delay, a linkurl:paper;http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/08/16/1006901107.abstract reporting a strong association between the retrovirus xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) and chronic fatigue syndrome was published this week in the __Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences__ (PNAS). The study, carried out by researchers from the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration, found gene sequences pertaining to a closely related class of viruses, known as murine leukemia virus (MLV)-related viruses, in 86.5 percent of patients diagnosed with the syndrome, in contrast to less than 10 percent of healthy people.
The path to publication took a few unexpected turns. A few days after the paper had been accepted in late May, last author Harvey Alter contacted the staff at __PNAS__ asking to delay its publication after having found that a linkurl:paper;http://www.retrovirology.com/content/7/1/57/abstract/ reporting no such association between the syndrome and...
TS: Is there an established protocol that journals -- or at least __PNAS__ -- turn to in such situations?TS: So would this be a case where delaying, as opposed to releasing peer-reviewed data immediately, is the responsible thing to do?TS: How could the process have gone smoother?TS: Anything else you'd like to add?S.C. Lo, et al., "Detection of MLV-related virus gene sequences in blood of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and healthy blood donors," PNAS, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1006901107, 2010.R. Schekman, "Patients, patience, and the publication process," PNAS, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1012027107, 2010.W.M. Switzer, et al., "Absence of evidence of Xenotropic Murine Leukemia Virus-related virus infection in persons with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and healthy controls in the United States," Retrovirology, doi:10.1186/1742-4690-7-57, 2010.
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