This site is intended for health professionals only

Researchers put end to ‘virus causes ME’ theory, swallow a balloon to lose weight and breast cancer drug advance

There has been much debate over a theory widely reported three years ago that a virus was the underlying cause of chronic fatigue syndrome. But researchers – including those who first raised the idea – have now put the final nail in the coffin of the hypothesis, the Daily Mail reports. A study of 147 patients found no evidence with infection with XMRV or pMLV, the viruses linked with the condition in a 2009 Science paper, suggesting the original evidence was contaminated. In response to the findings, published the journal of the American Society for Microbiology, Professor Ian Lipkin, professor of epidemiology at Columbia University in New York said: ‘We've tested the XMRV/pMLV hypothesis and found it wanting.'


Also in the Daily Mail today, a balloon swallowed inside a capsule before being inflated in the stomach by a doctor could be an effective weight loss treatment. Approved in the UK although not yet available, the silicone balloon has been shown in small 12-week trials to lead to weight loss of up to 50 per cent. Unlike existing gastric balloons, no endoscopic intervention is needed to get the balloon into position but more research is needed on longer-term use of the device. Professor Paul Trayhurn, professor of nutritional biology at Liverpool University, said: ‘It sounds promising. Gastric balloons and gastric bypass operations are being used to reduce the effective size of the stomach so that you feel full more quickly, with the result that you eat less.'


And finally over to the Daily Telegraph, who are reporting that up to 8,000 women a year with advanced breast cancer could benefit from a new treatment – everolimus – which has been shown to stall the disease for four months longer than current treatments. Trials data is still being analysed but an expert at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London said the drug was already having a big impact.Dr Rachel Greig, of the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer, agreed the drug was one of the biggest advances in many years. ‘While this is by no means a cure, it could give patients several extra months of good quality of life with their families