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Court dismisses lawsuit by XMRV-chronic fatigue syndrome researcher

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mikovitsA California court has dismissed virologist Judy Mikovits’s lawsuit against fourteen people and two Nevada corporations, in part because she failed to submit necessary documents on time.

Mikovits is the author on a now-retracted Science paper suggesting a link between a virus known as XMRV and chronic fatigue syndrome, which has no known cause. She alleged that she was fired from the Whittemore-Peterson Institute for blowing the whistle on her former colleague’s activities, and that the defendants then colluded to imprison and defame her.

The court dismissed her case last Wednesday. According to the court minutes,

Written by Shannon Palus

February 16th, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Chronic fatigue syndrome-XMRV researcher scheduled to head to court today, alleging conspiracy

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Judy Mikovits

Judy Mikovits

Chronic fatigue syndrome researcher Judy Mikovits was scheduled to head is heading to court today, where a California judge will would decide whether or not to dismiss her lawsuit against fourteen people and two Nevada corporations.

(Note: This story has been updated. See below.)

Among the defendants: the Whittemore Peterson Institute  in Reno, Nevada where Mikovits used to work; the institute’s cofounders, Annette and Harvey Whittemore; a colleague with whom she shares a retracted Science paper; and several members of California and Nevada law enforcement.

The complaint does not check the box next to “Money Demanded in Complaint”, but also lists $750,000 in the associated field:

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In 2006, Mikovits began working for the Whittmores at the WPI; her job was to search for a biological cause of chronic fatigue, a vexing, mysterious disease afflicting their daughter. Part of her research focused on a potential link between chronic fatigue syndrome and a virus known as XMRV. But after others — and Mikovits herself — couldn’t replicate results published in Science and the paper was retracted, she was fired from her position in 2011. Mikovits alleges that Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shannon Palus

November 16th, 2015 at 11:45 am

About-to-be-dismissed lawsuit reveals details of chronic fatigue syndrome-XMRV research fiasco

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Judy Mikovits

A case filed by chronic fatigue syndrome researcher Judy Mikovits — and about to be dismissed on technical grounds — reveals that Mikovits believes her firing from a research institute was in retaliation for blowing the whistle on activities there.

The suit — which we’ve made available here — was originally filed in November 2014 but is scheduled to be dismissed next week because Mikovits failed to serve the defendant within 120 days, as required under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In it, Mikovits seeks: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

June 9th, 2015 at 11:30 am

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Chronic fatigue syndrome researcher Mikovits, who championed link to XMRV, to publish book

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mikovits coverJudy Mikovits, the chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) researcher who had a paper linking the condition to XMRV retracted, has co-authored a book that’s coming out on May 6.

In an announcement on Age of Autism, co-author Kent Heckenlively gives a taste of what readers might find in the book, titled PLAGUE – One Scientist’s Intrepid Search for the Truth about Retroviruses, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Autism, and Other Diseases: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

March 11th, 2014 at 9:30 am

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New study “puts…speculation to rest” about link between XMRV and chronic fatigue syndrome

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Could this really — and finally — be the end for the alleged link between XMRV, also known as xenotropic murine leukemia-related virus, to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)?

The title of the press release announcing a long-awaited study of the subject in mBio is blunt: “Viruses not to blame for chronic fatigue syndrome after all.” A quote in the release from Ian Lipkin, who led the study, is even more direct: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

September 18th, 2012 at 12:00 am

Catching up: Charges against CFS-XMRV researcher Mikovits dropped, ‘gyres’ author Andrulis publishes another paper

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A follow-up on two stories we’ve covered here at Retraction Watch:

1. Criminal charges against chronic fatigue syndrome researcher dropped

The state of Nevada has dropped criminal charges against Judy Mikovits, the embattled chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) researcher whose paper linking the condition to a virus, XMRV, was retracted last year by Science.

As we reported in November, Mikovits was arrested in Ventura County, California on an “out of county warrant” from Washoe County, Nevada, for allegedly taking lab notebooks, a computer, and other material from the Whittemore Peterson Institute in Reno, Nevada, after the WPI fired her in September.

The first report on the dropped charges was apparently by Mikovits’ friend Lilly Meehan on Facebook, news that was picked up by the ProHealth website on June 13 (their post has since been updated). Later that day, ScienceInsider’s Jon Cohen, who has been covering the case closely, reported that Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

June 16th, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Chronic fatigue syndrome-XMRV paper retracted by Science, completely this time

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The editors of Science have fully retracted a study they published in 2009 alleging a link between chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and the virus XMRV.

The notice begins with a nod to the reasons that the paper has already been partially retracted:

Science is fully retracting the Report “Detection of an infectious retrovirus, XMRV, in blood cells of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome” (1). Multiple laboratories, including those of the original authors (2), have failed to reliably detect xenotropic murine leukemia virus–related virus (XMRV) or other murine leukemia virus (MLV)–related viruses in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patients. In addition, there is evidence of poor quality control in a number of specific experiments in the Report. Fig. 1, table S1, and fig. S2 have been retracted by the authors (3).

It also refers to evidence of image manipulation that was described by blogger Abbie Smith and then reported in the Chicago Tribune:

Read the rest of this entry »

Chronic fatigue syndrome researcher Judy Mikovits arrested

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Judy Mikovits, the embattled chronic fatigue syndrome researcher who was fired from her post at Reno, Nevada’s Whittemore Peterson Institute in September, was arrested yesterday in California.

The Ventura County, California Sheriff’s Department web site lists Mikovits under booking number 1259336, charged with a felony violation of California Penal Code section 1551.1, “Fugitive From Justice.”  This is that section, according to FindLaw: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

November 19th, 2011 at 7:26 am

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Why didn’t XMRV-chronic fatigue syndrome researcher Mikovits — now fired — share data with Science?

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The saga of XMRV and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) continues, with the news that Judy Mikovits, a main proponent of the link between the virus and CFS, has been fired from her post at the Whittemore Peterson Institute for Neuro-Immune Disease (WPI) in Reno. From a blog post yesterday on X Rx:

Breaking news. The entire WPI research program has been closed by the institute’s CEO, and the facility is now locked down. It’s former principle investigator, Dr. Judy Mikovits, is in active discussions concerning institutions to which she may move to continue her grant-funded research.

We spoke to Mikovits last week, apparently within a day of her being fired, according to the sequence of events reported today on the Wall Street Journal Health Blog. We were interested in her reaction to a comment to Retraction Watch by Science executive editor Monica Bradford about why the 2009 study Mikovits had co-authored had been partially retracted — a rare move, as we noted: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

October 3rd, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Why did Science partially retract the XMRV-chronic fatigue syndrome paper?

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If past experience is any indication, billions of pixels will be spilled in the coming days as scientists and advocates debate the latest twist in the story of XMRV, or xenotropic murine leukemia-related virus, and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Today’s news is that Science is partially retracting a 2009 paper by Judy Mikovits and colleagues, including Vincent Lombardi, purporting to show a link between the virus and the syndrome — a paper about which they issued an Expression of Concern in May. The retraction is of a table and a figure — more on that in a bit.

In an excellent blow-by-blow account in Science of the nearly 20-year-long saga, also out today, Jon Cohen and Martin Enserink review the unusual circumstances of that Expression of Concern. Science editor-in-chief Bruce

Alberts and Science Executive Editor Monica Bradford had first suggested that Mikovits and her co-authors retract the paper voluntarily. “Science feels it would be in the best interest of the scientific community,” they wrote in a 26 May letter. Mikovits was livid and questioned Alberts’s motives. “Who wrote that letter? I don’t think it was Science,” she says. The co-authors thought the retraction request was premature, too. “What if we walk away from this based on contamination and it’s not contamination?” Lombardi asked. “You’ve got to give us time to figure this out.”

Alberts stresses that they floated the retraction idea because Science already planned to publish the Expression of Concern. “It wasn’t a public call for retraction,” he notes, emphasizing that the recipients shared it with the media. He also does not think it would have been premature, although he says it’s often a tough call whether to retract a paper. “Ultimately, it requires expert judgment and a lot of sensitivity to the issues,” he says. “We had lost confidence in the results.”

As Science noted in May, two studies accompanied the May Expression of Concern Read the rest of this entry »