A few days ago I reported that the editors of Science retracted the paper that initially linked the mouse virus XMRV with chronic fatigue syndrome (Lombardi et al.).

While busy attending parties (and recovering in between them!) another paper that forms part of the line of evidence offered to support the idea that XMRV is associated with CFS has been retracted. Since these papers efforts by others failed to reproduce the association and evidence that this was laboratory contamination mounted.

In this case the authors (Lo et al.) have themselves retracted their paper.

(In the case of the earlier Lombardi et al. retraction, the retraction was by the Science editors who noted ’We note that the majority of the authors have agreed in principle to retract the Report but they have been unable to agree on the wording of their statement. It is Science‘s opinion that a retraction signed by all the authors is unlikely to be forthcoming. We are therefore editorially retracting the Report.’ Curiosity being what it is, elaboration as to which authors disagreed or what the disagreement was over would be interesting.)

While the retraction notice for Lo et al’s paper is not yet available at PNAS, it can be read at RetractionWatch. Further commentary can be had at the ERV blog and by virologist Vincent Racaniello.


While we’re on the subject of retractions, try reading Retraction by reason of insanity? A look at a 60-year-old entomology paper. This is not a case of deliberation misrepresentation, but a likely case of delusional parasitosis. It’s an intriguing case to think about.

These retractions won’t of course deter a small number of people who will simply cry ‘conspiracy’ (as for example some of the ‘Hero Members’ in the smcfsforums). They are entitled to their views (of course), but these retractions rest on experimental research issues, not (large-scale) politics.

Other articles on Code for life:

XMRF-CFS: full retraction on it’s way

The Mikovits / XMRV research saga continues

Trust science, not scientists

XMRV prompts media thought: ask for the ’state of play’

Royal Society ‘aged’ back catalog free, permanently

Life sciences want bioinformatics, but not so much e-infrastructure?

Developing bioinformatics methods: by who and how