As scientists race to find a biological cause for chronic fatigue syndrome, long considered by many doctors to exist in patients’ heads, the National Institutes of Health could shed new light on the debate at a major scientific workshop on the disorder.
A Short History of XMRV
Researchers at the University of Utah and elsewhere are working to create diagnostic tests, based partly on proteins or other markers that appear to show up in greater quantities in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Diagnosing the disorder is difficult, in part because symptoms vary among patients.
Other scientists are trying to understand why other infections, such as mononucleosis, appear to prompt chronic fatigue syndrome in some patients. And in a program at New York’s Columbia University, researchers are seeking to identify pathogens that may appear prominently in patients with the disorder. Researchers will be testing “for all those agents that we know affect vertebrates on this globe,” says Mady Hornig, who heads the Columbia program.