I finally understand, Whittemore Peterson Institute. I get it. You exist to torment me. (video NSFW if you will get in trouble for throwing up at your desk)
There are a couple things people have been asking me to write about re: WPI & XMRV.
1– The new paper
The lead PI on the “XMRV–>CFS” paper is a woman named Judy Mikovits. She is a nutbar. Everyone is out to get her, everyone is part of conspiracies to discredit her research, she consorts with anti-vaxers and snake-oil peddlers– aka, nutbar. One of her many claims of persecution was that she has allllllllll these papers written but no one will ‘let’ her publish. Well, they have finally published their sequel to the “XMRV–>CFS” paper, and like all non-‘Empire Strikes Back’ sequels, it sucks. If this paper is representative of what they have been submitting to journals/meetings, it is painfully obvious why they are not being accepted, and it has nothing to do with the *DRAMA!!!!* (jazzhands) of XMRV. But at least she has to stop bitching about how no one will let her publish. So, theres a win after reading a shit paper:
They looked at cytokine profiles of people who had CFS and people who didnt have CFS. They were different. Therefore, the differences were due to XMRV, to the point where you can use the phrase “XMRV/CFS”, you know, like “HIV/AIDS”, LOL. *blink*
This paper would be rejected, universally, from normal journals for numerous reasons. The most obvious, is that the conclusions (even the title) grossly overstretch the actual data presented. They cannot make the conclusions (even the title) they made from what is in that paper. Let me make this clear: They could have gotten the data they needed to investigate what they said they investigated in this paper (but didnt). They did not. Your guess is as good as mine as to why they chose not to. What they need are the following patient populations:
1– CFS, XMRV+
2– CFS, XMRV-
3– Healthy, XMRV+
4– Healthy, XMRV-
Theyve got a ‘test’ for XMRV, right? Super awesome test no one else can do but them? So they could have gotten these four populations, easy. Then you get all four groups cytokine profiles, compare em, and you have a ‘Journal of Immunology’ paper or higher.
They did not do that.
They declared they had a cytokine profile associated with ‘XMRV/CFS’ anyway (even though they didnt test their healthy controls for XMRV, LOL. *blink*) and published in ‘in vivo’.
The *data* contained within the paper, if addressed critically and honestly, could have been accepted into a normal journal. Similar data has been accepted before (impact factor 5 vs ‘in vivos’ 1). But they overstretched and made asses of themselves, because they just had to connect it to XMRV, even though they had no reason to (the whole paper could have been written without mentioning XMRV once. they mentioned it ~50 times).
Let me give you an example, from my own work:
I have isolated viruses from a patient at various time points. I have done lots of biochemical assays to measure this, that, the other. What I cannot do is say “I STUDIED THESE 20 VIRUSES AND THEY DID X SO ALL HIV DOES X!” or “I SAW X IN THIS PATIENT SO X IN ALL HIV PATIENTS!”. What I can do is say “While we have a limited sample set, we did observe X, and can explain Observation X with Data A, B, C. While Observation X might not hold true within the entirety of HIV-1, other labs have also made Observation X within their own limited sampling, with different cohorts of patients with different Subtypes of HIV-1. Furthermore, Data A, B, and C could putatively biochemically explain Observation X, something no one has investigated before.” You explain your data, you explain someone elses data, you say something new. This is how the field moves forward.
If I am being generous, I would say that they did not start with the right populations of patients and grossly overstated their data because they are mind blowingly incompetent.
On the other end of the spectrum is the assumption that they know damn well what they are doing, and just wanted to publish ‘something’ to justify selling CFS patients another expensive-say-nothing ‘diagnostic test’. They mentioned in the paper they wanted to use this ‘cytokine test’ to assess whether antiretrovirals are working. So they could sell this test to a CFS patient, 2, 3, 4, more times a year? If I were evil, thats how I would do it.
2– The new sequences
I have no idea what the hell they think they are doing. They uploaded 11 sequences. Guess what these ‘totally new clearly unique’ sequences are.
Youll never guess.
They isolated VP62 over and over and over and over and over! HURRAY!!!!
You want a conspiracy? These people only exist to torment *me*.