Thursday, December 22, 2011

Controversial chronic fatigue-virus paper retracted

Andy Coghlan, reporter

The journal Science has today fully retracted a controversial paper from 2009 reporting that a mouse leukaemia virus could be the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome.

Numerous attempts to replicate the findings have failed, and investigations revealing that the mouse virus was probably a contaminant of the original blood samples from patients led to the paper being partially retracted in September.

Frustrated with the failure of most of the original authors to agree on the wording of a retraction, Science has decided to unilaterally retract the paper and released a statement explaining why.
"Science has lost confidence in the report and the validity of its conclusions," says the retraction issued today by journal editor, Bruce Alberts. "It is Science's opinion that a retraction signed by all the authors is unlikely to be forthcoming [so] we are therefore editorially retracting the report."

Alberts offers regret that so much time and resources have been spent unsuccessfully trying to replicate the paper.

In a second development, the main author of the paper, Judy Mikovits, has lost a civil law case brought against her by her former employer, the Whittemore Peterson Institute in Reno, Nevada, alleging that she appropriated key data after she was sacked.
Mikovits looks likely to stand trial on 10 January facing criminal charges of theft.

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