Indulging Idiots: Looking for XMRV in vaccines

The very first sign Judy Mikovits was not just a little 'off-her-rocker' kook-coo, but full on 'off-the-rocker-set-it-on-fire-and-dancing-around-the-flames-nude-while-using-feces-as-war-paint' kook-coo, was this comment she made about XMRV, vaccines, and autism, before her shit paper was even published:

"On that note, if I might speculate a little bit," she said, "This might even explain why vaccines would lead to autism in some children, because these viruses live and divide and grow in lymphocytes -- the immune response cells, the B and the T cells. So when you give a vaccine, you send your B and T cells in your immune system into overdrive. That's its job. Well, if you are harboring one virus, and you replicate it a whole bunch, you've now broken the balance between the immune response and the virus. So you have had the underlying virus, and then amplified it with that vaccine, and then set off the disease, such that your immune system could no longer control other infections, and created an immune deficiency."

That wasnt just an ill-planned, ill-advised, regretted remark (that flies in the face of several fields of basic science). She genuinely believed her 'logic' there. Mikovits went on to share a stage with anti-vax assholes like Andrew Wakefield and Jenny McCarthy at an AutismOne conference.

Of course, the anti-vax crowd ate up whatever Mikovits was serving. The Usual Suspects weaved XMRV into their anti-vax narrative, and real autism advocates now had to deal with *that* crap.

And of course, the Usual Suspects acted with absolutely no data of any kind shown in any capacity to actual scientists. Just all this unpublished SUPER SECRET (apparently) data Mikovits had, but for some reason was uninterested in sharing with the scientific community. XMRV-->Autism is an internet meme that got out of control and breached into the real world, gaining the capability to actually hurt children.

Well, apparently its the responsibility of the retroviral community to clean up the messes Judy Mikovits makes, because she is too stupid and/or lazy and/or evil to take responsibility for her own behavior:

No Evidence of Murine Leukemia Virus-Related Viruses in Live Attenuated Human Vaccines

Guess what.

There is no XMRV/MLV or 'HGRV' (not an actual real phrase real scientists use) in vaccines.

Please, everyone, pick your chins up off the ground. I know you all are *shocked*, but try to compose yourselves, here.

But dont fret! Mikovits never actually said XMRV was in vaccines. She just said that if you were already infected with XMRV (how? I dunno. lets say aliens. makes about as much sense as anything else that comes out of that damned womans mouth), getting a vaccine homologous recombinaltion tinikers with your DNA and you get autism (or whatever). See, its not the XMRV in vaccines that causes autism-- its XMRV PLUS vaccines that causes autism! Somehow!

Maybe the retroviral community can waste MORE money on this bullshit by infecting some macaques with XMRV (lets try 5 gallons of it this time!) and then give them an MMR shot. Wait for the macaques to dislike large crowds of macaques and get obsessed with stars and constellations. Im sure Bob Silverman is up for needlessly sacrificing a few more non-human primates (in for a penny, in for a pound, amirite?).



More like this

"Wait for the macaques to dislike large crowds of macaques and get obsessed with stars and constellations."

Macaques are already assholes by nature. How can we tell if they become e-diagnosed high functioning aspies? Do we wait for them to establish Reddit Gold accounts?

By Prometheus (not verified) on 03 Jan 2012 #permalink

But dont fret! Mikovits never actually said XMRV was in vaccines. She just said that if you were already infected with XMRV (how? I dunno. lets say aliens. makes about as much sense as anything else that comes out of that damned womans mouth), getting a vaccine homologous recombinaltion tinikers with your DNA and you get autism (or whatever).

Her statement is so illogical that I cannot help but comment on it.

So when you give a vaccine, you send your B and T cells in your immune system into overdrive. That's its job.

1) Technically this is more or less true; the specific small subset of T and B cells that respond the the specific antigenic challenge of that vaccine should be impacted, so that if the real pathogen comes along later and presents the same or a very similar antigen, it will be met with a secondary immune response. That is indeed an approximate description of how a major component of immunity works.

2) However, this is not specific to vaccines. This is also what would happen if you were infected with the pathogen that the vaccine is against. Or most other pathogens, if you have a normal immune system. Just different T and B cells. Always the ones that react to antigens derived from the specific pathogen in question.

Well, if you are harboring one virus, and you replicate it a whole bunch, you've now broken the balance between the immune response and the virus.

This is bizarre.

1) Is there any evidence that normal human lymphocytes harbor infectious XMRV? You can consider this a rhetorical question if you like...

2) As I said above, most immune system challenges, whether infections, vaccines, or other, have the potential to activate specific populations of B and T lymphocytes. By the logic presented here, ALL vaccines, infections, or other conditions that cause lymphocyte proliferation in response to antigen/receptor interactions should equally "cause autism". So why is she only talking about vaccines?

She's playing the home crowd there. The warrior moms are absolutely terrified of the "autism is genetic" findings - because then everything is their fault. But if it's genetic due to an ERV, that's ok, they are just "infected" by something from the outside.

I don't mean to be too insulting, but don't you think you are getting a bit too obsessed over a certain individual?

I mean your last statement isn't funny, it's just sad.

Andrew, to whom do you refer? If you refer to Mu, then you should distinguish between an ERV and THE ERV (Abbie Smith, blogger).

If you refer to Abbie writing about Mikovits again, then you're a bit on your own. Yes, I see how one could think it's 'obsession'. That's because Abbie's passionate about science, and imparting that onto the public (hence her blog). Mikovits is the type of scientist who tars and feathers the whole enterprise of science, and Abbie is taking none of that shit. And good for her. But I'm sure you could get Abbie to never mention Mikovits again. It'd be easy really.

Have Mikovits refund every penny (Abbie would probably insist on interest) to every sick person she swindled it out of. Have her retract all of her bogus claims, and explain exactly why they are, in fact, bogus. She'd probably have to give an actual 'apology' too, but don't hold Abbie to my guesswork here. An apology for lying, not for being wrong in the beginning. But all of the shit that happened after she learned she was wrong and then decided to just start inventing shit.

And, after all of that, she'll have to bring back from the dead those who died relying on this charlatan's false promises of help.

Do all of that and I think Abbie might, mind you just might, leave Mikovits alone.

@ Andrew #4

You mean: âIm sure Bob Silverman is up for needlessly sacrificing a few more non-human primates (in for a penny, in for a pound, amirite?).â

How is that âsadâ, itâs a highly appropriate piece of irony that speaks to anyone concerned with â

a) Ethical experimentation.
b) Effective use of scarce research funding.

As for obsession â why are you bothering to read and comment ? the obsession charge cuts to all those who maintain an interest in whatever the claimed source of interest is. Mikovits remains a focus of sceptical interest because of her continued feeding of partialist and anti science statements to an audience that is intent on maintaining her as an authority despite her obvious failings as a researcher see - ERV blog ad nauseum . Tying one medical condition to unrelated medical conditions without evidence or sound hypotheses is a well worn fallacy pursued by numerous cranks, Mikovits has shown a sustained interest in appropriating M.E/CFS as a âcause pathetiqueâ to which legitimacy is to be added by association with âoutsiderâ science and brave radical scientists (aka frauds like Wakefield). At the very time that any reasonable scientist having screwed up in the way Mikovits has (OK contradiction in terms but ..) would now be taking every opportunity to disassociate themselves from dubious past connections and make best use of the lifeline (Lipkin) thatâs been given her â Mikovits is throwing in her lot with the chronic lyme crowd and Big Sup promoters like the ANH . Lipkin may think Mikovits is worthy of inclusion in âscienceâ, that doesnât mean sheâs got a free pass to avoid being on âcrank watchâ.

However, this is not specific to vaccines. This is also what would happen if you were infected with the pathogen that the vaccine is against. Or most other pathogens, if you have a normal immune system. Just different T and B cells. Always the ones that react to antigens derived from the specific pathogen in question.

Posted by: harold | January 3, 2012 2:13 PM

Well, I don't know about live attenuated vaccines, but with inactivated vaccines you need a adjuvant to "push" the immune system to react (simply injecting the dead virus won't do much), so I don't know if only the ones specific to the pathogen react when being vaccinated. And AFAIK when designing the composition vaccine it usually is necessary to adjust it so that the immune system reacts the right way and it is depended on many factors. So I don't think there is a "one size fits all" reaction in all vaccines and you would have to look at each vaccine.

So, Mouseovits' broad claims are complete bunkers, but you play a bit fast and loose here too, I would say.

And one more point: The risks from vaccines are far far far lower than the risks from the pathogens they fight. BUT. Simply saying a vaccine is a kind of "pathogen without the illness" is simply not true.

And our friend Jamie Tunnel-Vision MD has her own take on the study
However, they did find human, avian and porcine endogenous retroviruses that they already knew were there, plus a new hamster virus in the vaccine grown in hamster cells... but it was DNA only, not a speck of RNA, so no worries... No Evidence of Murine Leukemia Virus-Related Viruses in Live Attenuated Human Vaccines. Switzer. Their conclusion: "We found no evidence of XMRV and MLV in eight live attenuated human vaccines further supporting the safety of these vaccines..." If it wasn't so sad, it'd be funny.

So no XMRV/P/MLV/"HGRV", but other parts of viruses, so Jamie says "Hurray! We can still continue our vaccine scare!"

For one your not very Professional.And you need some soap in that nasty mouth of yours.
I live with this illness daily.Its horrible! Have some respect for us.

Take a few classes on How to Treat people!


Since you recommend them, I am assuming the "....classes on How to Treat people!" are not taught in the same building as typing, grammar, spelling or reading comprehension.

As an aside (out of the mouths of babes.... etc.), I think "Illness Daily" would make a marvelous blog title.

By Prometheus (not verified) on 04 Jan 2012 #permalink

@ PamME #10
To me (and that is my personal impression) it looks like Dr. Mikovits is a fraud and purposefully put XMRV plasmid into patient samples. And it is my impression that ERV (the blogger) thinks the same, so I would say she is showing utter restraint and sticking to things she could prove in a court of law â which is already a lot of stuff that shows how utterly unprofessional and irresponsible Dr. Mikovits behaved with claims that she could not backed up with facts. On that base Dr. Mikovits gets the ridicule she rightfully deserves.

If you think Dr. Mikovits is bringing ME/CFS patients help, then you have been had. I honestly hope that the Norwegians, or the Lights (Kathleen and Alan), or Klimas, or Lipkin or the countless others who do work in ME/CFS will find something, but accusing of ERV of ERV having a "nasty mouth" is not going to help you or your disease.


It would be wise to remember that the only people not respecting ME patients in this saga are Mikovits and her cronies.

ERV and others on this blog have demonstrated plenty of respect here by appropriately limiting criticisms to the scientists who have caused enormous scientific resources of time, money, and intellect to be diverted to XMRV/MuLV/HGRV research. That is fair game, and it is more important to get the science right than to worry about expletives. If the Lombardi 2009 work ultimately turns out to be a wasteful false effort, it is YOUR future that has been at stake. consider it.

Although has had to deal with a caustic and hostile reaction by militant ME/CFS patients, ERV and others here have been very patient with those non-scientists in the ME/CFS community who post here with what must seem like very dumb questions about virology, PCR's and other topics. Personally, I find that if you give respect, then you have the best chance to get respect back.

#10 I live with this illness daily.Its horrible! Have some respect for us.

Were you always a pompous twat or did you only start speaking with the 'royal we/us' after getting sick ? I have no intention of giving anyone respect because of their poor genetic inheritance, misfunctioning immune system or the plan bad luck that renders them ill. And neither do I expect or even want respect because I'm crippled by having a poor genetic inheritance, a misfunctioning immune system or the plan bad luck that renders me ill. What I do expect is for the scientifically literate to be brutally honest. And if that honesty gets delivered with neat irony and wicked sarcasm, I'll take that as bonus. But then I'm just a sour old git with 3 decades of M.E/CFS crippledom behind him, still I've not had any symptom that's as puke making as the whiney arsed clarion call of the 'respect us, we're ill brigade'.


"ERV and others on this blog have demonstrated plenty of respect here by appropriately limiting criticisms to the scientists...."

I have not always resembled that kind accolade.

The diversion of limited funding and the diversion of limited research resources to a miracle solution,dubious testing procedures, proposed panaceas and futile efforts to reproduce the irreproducible was exploited by a few unscrupulous scientists.

But it was ME/CFS community driven.

As is;

The ongoing attempts to malign and discredit the entire psychiatric community.

The revived and deadly inertia of the anti-vax movement.

The unrepentant active support of a levianthianic cottage industry of quackery hiding behind a NIH funded miasma of doublespeak called "Complimentary and Alternative Medicine".

While I have respect for respectful(rational) CFS/ME suffers and am conscious of the extent desperation can compromise judgment, there must be limits.

Vocal members that purported to represent the CFS/ME community, harassed and attempted to professionally damage Abbie 'nasty mouth' Smith in retaliation for her acting the way scientists are supposed to i.e. questioning the questionable.

I think they have a lot to answer for.

I guess what I am trying to say is that PamME, her tone trolling and her "Illness Daily" can, in my considered opinion, fuck right off.

By Prometheus (not verified) on 04 Jan 2012 #permalink

Show you respect? You mean, um, like taking down and getting shunned from the scientific community a 'scientist' who is willing to lie to you, the sick, the suffering, the desperate for a cure, to bilk you out of cash, peddle you some false hope while diverting resources from research that might actually be promising? I'm not certain if that's 'respect' proper, but it is compassion for those who are suffering - at least to the extent that Abbie is, unlike Mikovits, willing to be honest and say: I don't know why you're sick instead of lying to you.

I'd rather know that no one knows why I'm hurt, sick, whatever than to be lied to and led down a false road of imaginary hope, for someone else's financial ledger.

If by respect you mean Abbie, who is such that I'm aware a fully grown adult, must not use naughty words, well, you're demanding more than you're entitled to demand from someone you aren't dating.

What about cats? They should have real high exposure to mouse ERVs.

They could test cats, hundreds of cats, thousands of cats, millions and billions and trillions of cats.

PamME. I is a patient too. I done luvs ERV's potty mouthed snarky blogs because they done tells the truth, da whole truth, and nuttin but da truth.

Don't be using the royal "we" to speak for me. ERV deserves the utmost respeck. You be a nasty sheeple of dems peeple over on yonder crazy ME/CFSforum.

By Can'tspelwelllll (not verified) on 04 Jan 2012 #permalink

Are you sure about the timeline? That Mikovits said those things before her paper was published?

Because the blog you link to sounds like it is describing something she said right after the paper was published on line, not before. The blog was 4 days after the on line publication, and it describes a TV appearance by Mikovits, which sounds like it was right after publication. However, specific days are not included.



I agree. All cats MUST be tested! And if they are negative they need to be infected to see whether they are infectable and whether it is passed on to the offspring.

But don't stop there! How about food? Who knows but we might be exposed to XMRVPMLVHGRVs from mice running over tomatoes, potatoes and carrotts in our supermarkets and greenhouses! Probably, we need to test EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE for the presence of mouse ERVs. Judy is right. It is premature to stop the fun now. I am looking forward to many more high quality publications!


Prometheus @16

Fair enough if you want to lay blame on the entire ME/CFS community for driving the XMRV mess past its "sell by" date, which in retrospect was likely around Oct. 2009. I gave up hoping for logic and unity to prevail and for patients to speak with one voice about the time the name was changed from ME to CFS in the 1980's.

Now you can generalize about the patient community as accurately as you can generalize about people who drive cars or cook food. Anyway, since Dr. Wakefield has been mentioned repeatedly in this thread, some of you may find this newslink interesting:

@ PamME #10 Mikovits is included in the Lipkin study to appease the crazies. You can just imagine the outcry if the study came up empty and they left Mikovits out of the study...conspiracy by the government again.

Mikovits is not getting away with anything, she is under Federal and State investigation. I believe she knows it now and gets the picture. Her woes are only just beginning.

Levi, it's nice that Wakefield filed a suit under US discovery rules. I'm sure we're going to learn a lot that so far never made the public record.

I read through that petition and at section VIII my eyes nearly exploded. Is that a standard component of US legal documents? Are atheists unable to undertake legal proceedings? Ok, the second question is rhetorical, but it is a weird closing to any official document.

By Perplexed (not verified) on 05 Jan 2012 #permalink


Prayer is also a term used in the language of laywers, so that's not related to religion, if that is your problem.

As in "he doesn't have a prayer" doesn't mean he lost religion, it means he has nothing to ask (the court)for.

You learn something new every day, thanks. I suppose coming from science I should be careful about blaming other fields for their arcane terminology!

By Perplexed (not verified) on 05 Jan 2012 #permalink

Wakefield doesn't have a 'prayer' (Pun) of winning. In fact, it opens a legal avenue for more charges to be brought against Wakefield through additional discovery from the defendants barring any jurisdictional disputes concerns raised by the defendants in the case. Talk about digging your own grave deeper.

I wouldn't be surprise if the court throws the case out as being frivolous. After all Wakefield made himself a public figure of his own volition and therefore such laws are harder to prove. BMJ and Lancet need only to prove the truth of their statement which is quite easily to do while Wakefield will be putting himself on trial to prove the accuracy of his own research work. But in Texas, who knows...weird state.

Ecojane @31,

I have read some of the recent legal blogs written by real-life lawyers doing a preliminary analysis of this lawsuit, and they raise some interesting questions such as diversity jurisdiction, res ajudicata, anti-SLAPP measures, and nexus required to trigger long arm statutes. But none of them are saying Wakefield does not have any chance of winning. Probably because they are lawyers and know better.

Autism is not a big interest of mine and I know next to nothing about Dr. Wakefield. As a lawyer, these legal issues interest me, so I guess I will have to read up if this case goes forward.

I do know this: if I wanted to sue a science reporter and a scientific medical journal, it would be nice to sit the jury with citizens from a U.S. state where over half its inhabitants do not believe in evolution, and a large percentage think that dinosaurs and humans co-existed in time:

@ Mo. The publication of this paper says a lot about the interpretation of retractions and also the lack of consistency in publication/peer-review protocols. I have no doubt that certain folk will eat it up.


That Nature article's comment section is comedy gold.

Reading the 'conversation' between Baker and Jeffreys was already pretty funny.

Reading the court decision that Richard Jefferys linked to was even much better, especially when the judge came around that affidavit from the expert scuba diver (named "Peters") who concluded that courts take judicial notice that drug addicts are pathological liars.

Back to the conversation. Baker complains that his (apparently) very convincing) affidavit was not mentioned by the court. He links to it.

I start reading.

Turns out this Baker guy is actually that expert scuba diver. The court apparently mixed his name up with someone else's.

By RRM (XMRV denier) (not verified) on 06 Jan 2012 #permalink

I can't help but notice that something of a sea-change appears to be occurring on J-DJ's blog at present e.g. from Jamie herself:

'I don't mean to be rude. I'm annoyed and want the behavior to stop. Why do you know things that even Dr. Mikovits doesn't? Please tell us. Your continual attacking of anyone who questions anything about the Science study is just plain dumb to me. Deaf and blind. Obviously, mistakes were made, or we wouldn't be in this mess. The travesty is that the scientists most directly involved aren't being allowed to unravel what happened, since now it's tied up in the courts! That's really going to help things. But your arguing that everything was perfect doesn't help a thing. The Science paper was retracted prematurely in my opinion, but clearly, there were problems with it. We should be fighting that the baby not be thrown out with the bath water, but trying to hold on to something so tenaciously that has such problems, doesn't help anyone. You are trying to discredit people that we need. Not helping. Misguided, IMO.
Acceptance. The past is the past. The fight now is to keep the work going, figure out what was right and what was wrong, not defend things that may not be true.'

Jack @36: Don't be fooled. Dr. JDJ pulled the same bs as an activist for aggressive treatment of chronic Lyme that she has in defiant defense of ARV therapy for XMRV-associated disease. Now she is backed into a corner: the institution she pledged allegiance to is suing the gal pal she claimed could do no wrong and the agent she swore was the root of all human disease is nothing more than a dirty little lab contaminant that somebody laced into human samples to pull one of the biggest heists since Ocean's 11. She's not really interested in passing the peace pipe. She certainly is smokin' something though. Don't succomb to the contact high.

How long do you think it will be before she deletes the whole archive from the old blog in hopes her past won't follow her on the new blog? It's like one of those diet program commercials, with the (slovenly) "before" and (perky) "after" pictures. She shed 100 pounds of ugly fat by establishing a new blog and website.

Well it may astonish you to know but that 'debate' between Jamie and 'Diego' aka V99 (?) involving a slapdown - which included Angela 'ad hominem' Kennedy also - was actually copied across to MECFS Forums in a way that suggests at least some are not convinced by those same old 'arguments' any longer I hope.

Also, a recent post on the forums from Gerwyn/Jace et al. (XMRV Global Advocacy Lol) is not going the way that they might have expected. Even on MECFSForums! I kid you not:
Thoughts on the Lipkin Study:,11084.0.html
And Phoenix Rising: Lipkin Study more concerns:…

Could the message finally be breaking through? Well perhaps not after listening to Prof Racaniello's latest TWiV - but winds of change and all that...?

"There is no XMRV/MLV or 'HGRV' (not an actual real phrase real scientists use) in vaccines."

Thanks for mentioning that. I've had a longish "conversation" with one of the leading proponents for treating autistic children with anti-retroviral agents (or, worse, rituximab) in which (s)he stated, "Even if XMRV isn't found in autism, it could be caused by one of the other HGRV's [human gamma retroviruses]."

Strangely enough, I haven't been able to convince this person that there aren't any other HGRV's and, now that it looks as though XMRV isn't a human virus, either, there may not be any "HGRV's".

Prometheus (the other one)

Well it may astonish you to know but that 'debate' between Jamie and 'Diego' aka V99 (?) involving a slapdown - which included Angela 'ad hominem' Kennedy also - was actually copied across to MECFS Forums in a way that suggests at least some are not convinced by those same old 'arguments' any longer I hope.

Also, a recent post on the forums from Gerwyn/Jace et al. (XMRV Global Advocacy Lol) is not going the way that they might have expected. Even on MECFSForums! I kid you not:
Thoughts on the Lipkin Study:,11084.0.html
And Phoenix Rising: Lipkin Study more concerns:…

I think by far my favorite post in the PR thread referenced above is RRM's on Jan 8 at 05:27 PM. Bravo! I tip my hat to you, sir.

By Poodle Stomper (not verified) on 10 Jan 2012 #permalink

From a comment by JDJ on her new/improved/no-xmrv-here-but-we-still-want-our-ARVs-for-retroviruses blog about ERV/Abbie:

"Larry, I did read it, and when it was about me. That's why I won't read it again. It was disgusting, narrow minded and not accurate. And I've been sent even more disgusting excerpts since. She is an ugly, destructive person. Dirt, like the mud she slings. Any senior scientist who condones her behavior should be ashamed. I would only consider reading anything she wrote if she issued a public apology to the ME/CFS patient community first. Otherwise, in terms she can understand, kiss my ass, bitch:)."

Pot? Is that you, calling the kettle black?

And by the way, loooks like it's over for prostate cancer too: "XMRV and prostate cancerâa 'final' perspective" Sfanos, Nature Reviews Urology doi:10.1038/nrurol.2011.225

I've found an other funny comment too. Although there's an off-chance it's an imposter this time, the following is by L. Hart. It sounds like she knows more about virology than about law (I've added some para breaks):

AIDS WAS NOT an easy disease to understand at all. Money and tools help. If XMRV is dead, why are there so many publications being published each week? Good ones, examining how it works, what each part does, how it assembles itself. It exists independent of some labs ability to contaminant their cell lines with it and other virions. We know that there are lung and other tissues which secrete XMRV (see literature).

We know it takes a different path through the B Cells than AIDS to unhinge the immune system checks and balances. We know many viruses are able somehow, once the back door of the protective immune system is unlocked, get in-HHV-6 EBv, scads of others. We know some integrate into DNA, to be activated another time. Herpes Simplex does a great job of reappearing as Zoster. We know in ME/CFS that a door to the immune system is opened by something viral and we know more and more how that door is opened and more how the immune system is hijacked. We know EBV, unchecked leads to cancers, we know other viruses lead to cancers.

We are only a few years into the new leads the 2009 Mikovits paper has given science to explore. There was nothing wrong with the work from the laboratories in that paper except Silvermanâs lab (and Dr. Silverman didnât even apologize for the sample mixup-although he did have a sample of the real thing.). Presently, money with commitment and time will show much us much more. Better and more specific tools are developed, as they were and are with ongoing AIDS research-AIDS research has never stopped.

So-it begs the question-where is the money, CDC? Why the waste on studies that seek to blame the patient? Disease is real, and the only way disease is in someoneâs âheadâ is because the infectious qualities and downstream products do cross the blood brain barrier, and can make parts of the brain a reservoir (WNV, others). We have many clues and many models. Politics doesnât belong in science, as most of the politics is the fruit of vanity and ego in competition for status rather than benefiting the people of this nation. Why the dumbing down is condoned &/or tolerated and even embraced in medicine and science is not rational nor financially sensible. At the very least, science and medicine can help the victims of ME/CFS have greater functionality, and keep exploring the great gifts research has so far brought us.

I disproved the German XRMV-in-lung (2010) paper in the "Houston..." tread for Paula Carnes, no reactions.

By mo (one of Abb… (not verified) on 13 Jan 2012 #permalink


The exquisite knowledge of viral processes (e.g. "intergration", "assembly" etc) and the deep virological insights ("We know it takes a different path through the B cells...") remind me of Prof Prof Dr Dr Dr G...what's his name again?

I am also grateful to learn that "Herpes Simplex does a great job of reappearing as Zoster". So far I though it was Varicella Zoster Virus, VCV, that causes chicken-pox and then zoster. But then again, I am probably part of a conspiration.


Sorry, it should read "conspiracy". I am getting confused. Could this be a sign of PMLVHGRVXMRV infection?


Be warned folks: This new Debunking Handbook is making its way through the twittersphere and may soon roost in the gardens of wilddaisy, JDJ, Gerwyn, V99/Pumpkin/Tango/Whiskey/Whateva as a model for how to debunk the myth that XMRV is over. Either that or it will be part of the conspiracy launched to debunk them. Take your choice.…


Yes, this you have. 8-|

thanks ilk.

By mo (one of Abb… (not verified) on 13 Jan 2012 #permalink

The backstory is that according to one school of thought within autism-woo circles, the proximal cause of autism is an abnormal gut biota. This theory is favoured amongst the anti-vax crowd, because for the gut to be populated by the wrong bacteria, something must have gone wrong with immune function, and naturally this is related to vaccination. Don't ask me to explain this part.

Anyway, the outcome is a lively research industry of comparing gut biopsies from autistic children to biopsies from neurotypical controls, and searching for some bacteria species that is more frequent in one group than the other. Invariably *something* shows up as different if you compare enough species (it helps that the sample groups are always vanishingly small), though the bacterium of choice differs from study to study with a depressing failure to replicate: lactobacteria, Clostridia, Bacteroidetes, Desulfovibrio...…

Evidently Hornig and Lipkin have decided to get in on the action.

In the paper I cited above, they had 23 in the autistic group and 8 controls. Only 8. What they fuck indeed. In a previous paper / fishing expedition they picked a shiny new proteobacterium called Sutterella as differing most in prevalence between the two samples (or rather, as best explaining the differences between "bar-coded pyrosequencing of the bacterial V2 regions of the 16S rRNA gene"). The present paper confirms that Yes, Sutterella was present in more of the autistic group than the controls.

This is not my field of expertise so I am loath to call it "junk science". The paper has evidently been picked up with loud gleeful halloos among the loonier anti-vaxxers, who see it as somehow vindicating Andrew Wakefield's fraudulent claims. Commenter Babroella mentioned that enthusiastic reaction in a RI thread, so here we are.…

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 13 Jan 2012 #permalink

This is my first time here, hope you go easy on me, I am not a science expert, just a mam, but thought I'd reply to the autism, gut bug thingy. There are a few other studies that hint of a gut bug change in autism, and of course more work needs to be done to clarify whether these changes are relevant and cause the neurological changes seen in this condition. My daughter was tube fed due to fat malabsorption, and when we tried to give her oral carbs, she developed "autistic traits" which lasted for as long as she had the carbs. Once these were stopped and we just used the tube feed for nutrition, these behaviour's lasted a furter 3 days, and then stopped. This was never investigated, and unfortunately when she needed extra calories for growth, we experienced the same thing. We eventually gave up the feeds, and fed her oral foods, and our little girl has permenant autistic traits. The only time these stop is when she is poorly and not eating, and it's wonderful to see her back with us. This lasts about 2 weeks and then she goes back to the Darkside.

I began to look ontline to see whether I could find a condition that matched, something that caused neurological changes when carbs were eaten. The only thing I have found is d-lactic acidosis, or another name is d-lactate encephalopathy. It is seen in short bowel patients, and is caused by d-lactic acid producing bacteria fermenting carbs. It lasts for about 72 hours after carbs are stopped in these patients. And it takes the bacteria about 2-3 weeks to overgrow, when treated.

I wonder whether something similar is happening to autistic kids. Here are a couple links, I realise of course they are too small to be of use, but might be of interest for further investigations.

This one is about vancomycin used, behaviours improved whilst they were in use, but had waned on follow up. I would love to see this repeated in a large scale study.

Ian Lipkin also found a carb problem in some autistic kids, which might be relevant if gut bacteria are fermenting carbs. ... ne.0024585

I know that the changes seen in the guts of autistic kids does not necessarily mean this is what causes autism, but I hope in future it leads to good scientific studies being carried out, to see whether these bacteria give off toxins, and if so, do they cause the neurological changes seen in autism.

Anecdotally, parent's report of improvements seen when kids are starved prior to sugery, and of course when they are on gluten free diets. I wonder whether this could because the bacteria are being starved.

I hope my post does not cause offense, I just think it might be a good area of research.

Gut floras are weird in that not everyone has the same composition and some healthy person has one type of bacterium some other healthy person completely lacks.
eg Carl Zimmers post here…
EMBL press release:…

So if you pick a small enough sample, you are garantied to get some quantitative differences between your patients and controls.

Also there is the case of Tlr5 ko mice having abnormal reactions to their gut flora, which changes the flora composition, which has an influence of the mice's behavior, causing them to eat more and become fat and diabetic. So in this case, the distal cause for the pathology is the genetic makeup of the host, while the proximal cause is the bahavior change mediated by gut flora.

Basically, if you find some different bacteria in autistic kids, its ambigious if this is a correlation, if it is a proximal or distal cause, error of small sample sizes or even a result of the different behaviour by autistic and non-autistic kids.

And because I'm not interested in bacteria and have no expertise in them, I'll shut up and never mention this again.

By mo (one of Abb… (not verified) on 13 Jan 2012 #permalink

omg @ typos.

By mo (one of Abb… (not verified) on 14 Jan 2012 #permalink

Here is a discussion (if you want to call it that) of MLV infections of different human cell lines:…

If anybody with some knowledge in retrovirology wants to chime in, she/he would be most welcome â by some at least. The science is above my level and the comments are at the "told you so it can infect humans too!!!" level. Be warned though, some will not respond kindly.

By Tony Mach (not verified) on 15 Jan 2012 #permalink

Tony, I suggest you give up, for the good of your health if nothing else! On a similar thread in another forum - you know the one - someone speculated than some virus might be carried in by EBV - wtf? Ok there are virophages that can attack huge viruses - but really the speculation is just wild.

And you know what, if they want to run a speculating journal club - whatever - let them get on with it - have fun. I have seen educated responses get brushed aside - people obviously in the field.

The only thing thst bother me is the increaing size of this horrible growth that is the new Vaccine - XMRV - Autism - ME meme, as nicely spelt out on X rx.

But I cant read this stuff anymore - its to expensive in packets of Zantac.

Breath in - and relax.

I'm outta there.

So back to the old topic of notebooks, specifically lab notebooks, even more specifically lab notebooks which are taken from the lab and not returned lab notebooks. What are the chances/possibilities of data being altered in such a hypothetical notebook? Do lab notebooks have serial numbers? Would it be possible for a hypothetical investigator to go to their local Scientific Depot, buy an identical notebook to the original, and hand copy the contents of the original notebook into the new notebook, possibly leaving out any bits of data that they didn't want brought to light?

Re David:
Tony, I suggest you give up, for the good of your health if nothing else! On a similar thread in another forum - you know the one - someone speculated than some virus might be carried in by EBV - wtf?
Were did I say this? I made one parody of the BS theories put forward by Gerwyn/V99 and the like. But I never said that EBV carries another virus - You must be mistaken.

By Tony Mach (not verified) on 29 Jan 2012 #permalink

Oh, sorry David, I misunderstood: You meant that someone else on the that forum said that thing about EBV!

(There was once a speculation that EBV might be able to carry a passenger virus, put forward by a researcher on a conference â it was speculation and I guess someone took it up as fact)

By Tony Mach (not verified) on 29 Jan 2012 #permalink

This may not be the correct thread for this, but I am piecing together a short history of the XMRV VP62 plasmid and was wondering if this is right:

- XMRV was created by a chance contamination of two MLV-like retroviruses (preXMRV-1 and preXMRV-2).

- This happened in human cell lines that were cultured using mouse tissues, which expressed the MLVs as ERVs. This lead to the infection of the 22Rv1 cell line with XMRV

- 22Rv1, being a prostate cancer cell line, ended up in labs of people working on prostate cancer

- Somehow, the virus jumped from the 22Rv1 cell line to prostate cancer biopsy samples (Contamination of lab equipment?) in the Silverman study

- Silverman's lab sequenced the viruses. One sequence was VP62, which came from patient 62? (hence the name)

- For research, Silverman's lab turned VP62 into a plasmid, so people could work with it (infect cell lines and so on)

- In 2006?, Silverman send the XMRV VP62 plasmid to Mikovits

- Then, VP62 turned up preferentially in patient samples of Lombardi et al. 2009, with Mikovits being the PI â and with Silverman doing the PCR testing

- Last year, Silverman re-examined the samples he still had left from Lombardi et al. 2009 and found XMRV VP62 plasmid

Is is this correct so far? Am I missing something?


And related to this:

Most of the other cases of contamination (e.g. from lab reagents) came from mouse ERVs, hence mouse (m)DNA was found. Were there cases of XMRV (VP62) plasmid contamination? I think I read of one, but am not sure.

Re-examining what Mikovits said, I think I can say that she always ruled out *mouse* contamination and was more than happy to do *mouse* contamination tests, when asked to.

When Silverman published his plasmid finding, Mikovits immediately threw him under the bus. She never said, oh well, we need maybe to test for plasmid contamination ourselves.

This is all circumstantial, but taken together with all else this is pointing in one directionâ¦

By Tony Mach (not verified) on 29 Jan 2012 #permalink

@36 & 37 re JDJ

The question is the results from the serology done in Lombardi et al. 2009.

Mikovits has changed her tune over the years (my, it has been so long already). While Coffin and Mikovits were pretty close in October 2009, Coffin came to the conclusion that if the diversity of sequences was so close to VP62 â and smaller(!) than in the 2006 prostate cancer biopsy contamination study â then it must be contamination in Lombardi et al 2009. Mikovits, on the other hand, basically threw out the PCR and now says more or less: Only look at the serology (and the pretty EM pictures)!

Mikovits wants to salvage the serology, so this is what JDJ wants â JDJ acts more or less like a Mikovits disciple/sock-puppet. When Mikovits throws Konnie Knox or Dan Peterson or Annette Whittemore or anybody else under the bus, so does JDJ. If Mikovits says "It is HGRV, fur realz!!!", then so does JDJ. JDJ takes everything by Mikovits at face value.

By Tony Mach (ene… (not verified) on 29 Jan 2012 #permalink

@Herr Doktor Bimler
"In other Lipkin-related news, he & Mady Hornig are developing a research side-line in autism woo"

Ian Lipkin has looked before for ways pathogens can cause mental illness. I read something to the effect that a maternal infection with influenza is a 30% risk in developing schizophrenia later in life. I think it is the way he rolls, looking at pathways pathogens can contribute to illnesses, illnesses without anything resembling a clear etiology. (I know, in the post-modern world of relativism we live in, this search for a better scientific representation of reality is so yesterday.)

So you imply that investigating possible connections between pathogens and illnesses, to confirm or refute a possible connection, is somehow "woo"? So you know the answer before such studies have been done? Then you are on the same level as the quacks you criticize, they too have answers without doing proper studies.

Sure, he might not be picky with the people he chooses to work with, but does his work give you indications that he is on the sides of the quacks? I think the work from Mikovits and her "HGRV" is quack science, but I want it refuted properly. I have a personal stake in this.

I know nothing about the role of Mady Hornig or of Sutterella in Autism â but if it is a pseudoscientific quack theory (and a quick google for this does not help me refute or confirm this) and I had a stake in Autism, I would want someone neutral to investigate this.

I know that I am biased, I have a stake in this â but how about you? Do you have any biases you know of? Somehow I am not 100% sure you would have seen doctors like Bettelheim as a practitioners of woo, back in the days.

By Tony Mach (def… (not verified) on 29 Jan 2012 #permalink

@Tony Mach

A few additions to your post 64:

- Silverman sent VP62 plasmid to WPI in March of 2008.

- WPI also did PCR testing. More specifically, WPI performed nested RT-PCR for gag. Silverman confirmed these results in 7 out of 11 patient samples using single round PCR for gag and env. Silverman (and not WPI) also did the PCR sequencing of full length clones.

- Mikovits throwing Silverman under the bus is actaully a pretty interesting story. Mikovits did test her samples for VP62 plasmid, but she was "unwilling" to share the data with Science. Monica Bradford, editor of Science, told Retraction Watch:

While we were aware that other co-authors had tested samples and claimed to not find evidence of plasmid contamination, those co-authors were unwilling to provide their data for examination so we were unable to comment on the validity of the other experiments

Retraction Watch dedicated a post to this very strange decision:…

I am trying to get through the Addendum to Lombardi et al. 2009:

It breaks my head. I need to stop. This paper is just wrong.

Some of the things I found before smoke rose from my head and little gears jumped out from my skull:

Table 4:
- Only 93 of the 101 patients are reported (WTF?)
- 73/93 (78%) are positive by cDNA nested PCR (WTF? Did they retest their patients? Lombardi et al. 2009 reported 68 patients)

When looking only at the 20 PCR negative patient samples, I find that:
- 12/20 (60%) PCR negative patient samples were not tested by other methods, only one PCR negative patient sample (the all negative 1139) was tested by all methods - this is at odds with the claims by Dr. Mikovits in her talks since October 2009 that all PCR negative samples were tested and that 31/33 PCR negative samples were positive by other methods…

I started to look at table 2. The addendum says:
"Of the 34 patients whose PBMCs were negative for XMRV by DNA or cDNA PCR, 17 were positive for infectious virus when co-cultured with the LNCaP indicator cell line, as XMRV gag and env PCR products were detected in the cell line following their infection with XMRV from the patient PBMCs (Table 2)."

Table 2 shows only 12 patients! Who were the "34 patients whose PBMCs were negative for XMRV by DNA or cDNA PCR"???? I want patient number and the results for all samples (including controls).

I am having a very hard time reconciling all the claims by Mikovits, even when trying to take them at face value. To me, this looks all fake. If the sample numbers were exchanged for publication (a claim that smells like a post-hoc lie to me), why did Silverman use the published numbers for "his" samples, as he used it in his retraction? All the "Silverman" samples are poster boys (1104, 1106, 1178, and so on) and are reported to stay constantly positive with different methods. If Lombardi et al. 2009 and its addendum is taken at face value, then finding XMRV is easy. This "what are the real patient numbers" game makes it impossible to be sure what they reported. I call fraud on this.

And none of the patients from table 2 (the supposed negative PCR patients) are actually negative in table 4! WTF?

Plus we have the patient sample 1199 in table 2, which seems to pop up now and then in other figures, but is missing from table 4⦠Is this some reference to Lost? Or some Dan Brown number thing? Or are these numbers from THX-1138?

(RRM, BTW thanks for the info!)

By Tony Mach (not verified) on 30 Jan 2012 #permalink

Lombardi et al. 2009 reported:

"Of the 101 CFS samples analyzed, 68 (67%) contained XMRV gag sequence."

That makes 33 PCR negative samples n Lombardi et al. 2009.

But contrast from the addendum:
"34 patients whose PBMCs were negative for XMRV by DNA or cDNA PCR"

This may be only be a minor point compared with the table 4, which reports 73 out of 101 samples positive and reports 20 PCR negative reported, allows for at most 28 PCR negative counting the omitted patient sample results. I think if one diggs deeper into the addendum, one will find more.

So what is it?

33 PCR negative?

Or 34 PCR negative?

Or somewhere between 20 and 28 PCR negative?

Re Mady Hornig, Ian Lipkin and woo:
Over the past 30 years, numerous studies have linked Borna disease virus (BDV) with mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorder, and dementia. Genetic fragments and antibodies to this RNA virus, which causes behavior disorders in a range of mammals and birds, have been found to be prevalent in psychiatric patients, but study results have been inconsistent. Now, the first blinded, case-control study to examine this issue finds no association between the virus and psychiatric illness.

"Our study provides compelling evidence that bornaviruses do not play a role in schizophrenia or mood disorders," says Mady Hornig, MD, director of translational research at the Center for Infection and Immunity.

CII director, W. Ian Lipkin, MD, senior author of the paper, notes that "it was concern over the potential role of BDV in mental illness and the inability to identify it using classical techniques that led us to develop molecular methods for pathogen discovery. Ultimately these new techniques enabled us to refute a role for BDV in human disease. But the fact remains that we gained strategies for the discovery of hundreds of other pathogens that have important implications for medicine, agriculture, and environmental health."

By Tony Mach (not verified) on 06 Feb 2012 #permalink