Interdisciplinary Training

Ramon Mendoza

"Detection and Rescue of Replicating XMRV virus in Cohort of Prostate Cancer Patients"

In 2006, a novel human retrovirus related to xenotropic retroviruses of mice and thus named xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) was found associated with prostate cancer, most frequently in humans expressing a defective antiviral defense protein, ribonuclease L.  More recently, a dramatic association of XMRV with chronic fatigue syndrome has been reported, indicating that XMRV might be involved in several human diseases. However, other researchers have reported failures to detect XMRV in humans with prostate cancer or chronic fatigue syndrome, and the role of XMRV in these diseases is still unclear. Little is known about the prevelance of XMRV, the sites of replication, amounts and persistence of infectious virus produced, the status of immune responses to XMRV, or modes of virus transmission in humans. While much of the work to detect XMRV virus is based on PCR techniques, these methods have proven to be prone to false positives and easily contaminated with fragments of mouse DNA.  Our research study is designed to detect replicating XMRV virus within the plasma or prostatic excretions of prostate cancer patients.   This work is being done in collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic, where some of the patients have repeatedly tested positive by RT-PCR suggesting a genuine replicating infection has occurred.