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Health and medicine/Diseases and disorders/Chronic fatigue syndrome

Jon Cohen, a contributing correspondent for AAAS’s journal Science, has been named winner of the 2012 Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting. The award is made in recognition of his exemplary coverage of a broad range of biomedical topics, but most notably his distinguished and persistent chronicling of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Jon Cohen and Martin Enserink, veteran reporters for the journal Science, have won the American Society for Microbiology’s 2012 Public Communications Award for their in-depth article on a controversial study that linked a mouse retrovirus, XMRV, to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

In October 2009, a Science report that patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) were infected with XMRV attracted a great deal of attention, but subsequent studies could not confirm this finding. Now, a new study in the 22 September edition of ScienceExpress reports that the lab tests used to detect the retrovirus called XMRV in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome are unreliable. The study is accompanied by a partial retraction of the original Science paper.

The link between the XMRV retrovirus and patients with chronic fatigue syndrome is probably the result of laboratory contamination, according to two new studies published today by the journal Science.

In 2009, a report that patients with chronic fatigue syndrome were infected with XMRV attracted considerable interest, but subsequent studies published in other journals by independent scientists failed to detect XMRV in other groups of patients with the condition. (Vincent Lombardi et al, Science Express 8 October 2009; Science 23 October 2009)