Lab Contamination Behind Debunked Link Between Virus, Prostate Cancer09/21/12
THURSDAY, Sept. 20 (HealthDay News) -- A new study confirms that
a once-promising discovery linking prostate cancer to a retrovirus
called XMRV was the result of laboratory contamination.
The link was first proposed more than six years ago when XMRV's
"signature" was detected in genetic material derived from tissue
samples taken from prostate cancer patients. It raised hopes that
using antiviral drugs to block XMRV could prevent prostate
Follow-up studies, however, failed to find the same signature
and researchers concluded that XMRV is an infection of human
prostate cancer cells in laboratories and not of prostate cancer
The current study was published Sept. 18 in the journal
In this new study, researchers conducted a forensic analysis of
tissue samples and lab experiments -- some dating back nearly a
decade -- and confirmed that the reported link between XMRV and
prostate cancer was the result of laboratory contamination.
The contamination occurred when traces of XMRV from other cells
being handled in the same laboratory found their way into the
prostate tissue samples, the team of scientists concluded.
"Everything arose from this presumed contamination event," study co-author Dr. Charles Chiu, assistant professor of laboratory medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and director of the UCSF-Abbott Viral Diagnostics and Discovery Center, said in a university news release.
The researchers noted that they used newly developed
technologies. They said if these scientific tools were available
when the link between XMRV and prostate cancer was first suggested,
it's likely that the contamination would have been identified far
Previous research also detected XMRV among tissue samples taken
from people with chronic fatigue syndrome. But the original study
linking XMRV and chronic fatigue syndrome has since been
The American Cancer Society has more about
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