Xenotropic murine leukaemia virus-related virus (XMRV) is a recently described retrovirus which has been claimed to infect humans and cause associated pathology. Initially identified in the US in patients with prostate cancer and subsequently in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, doubt now exists that XMRV is a human pathogen. We studied the prevalence of genetic sequences of XMRV and related MuLV sequences in human prostate cancer, from B cell lymphoma patients and from UK blood donors. Nucleic acid was extracted from fresh prostate tissue biopsies, formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) prostate tissue and FFPE B-cell lymphoma. The presence of XMRV-specific LTR or MuLV generic gag-like sequences was investigated by nested PCR. To control for mouse DNA contamination, a PCR that detected intracisternal A-type particle (IAP) sequences was included. In addition, DNA and RNA were extracted from whole blood taken from UK blood donors and screened for XMRV sequences by real-time PCR. XMRV or MuLV-like sequences were not amplified from tissue samples. Occasionally MuLV gag and XMRV-LTR sequences were amplified from Indian prostate cancer samples, but were always detected in conjunction with contaminating murine genomic DNA. We found no evidence of XMRV or MuLV infection in the UK blood donors.
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