The rise and fall of XMRV

O. K. Kakisi*, M. J. Robinson, K. I. Tettmar, Richard Tedder

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)


    SUMMARY: Due to the relatively recent emergence of the human T-lymphotropic and the human immunodeficiency viruses, enthusiasm for the identification of novel viruses, especially retroviruses, with pathogenic potential in humans, remains high. Novel technologies are now available with the ability to search for unknown viruses, such as gene arrays and new generation sequencing of tissue and other samples. In 2006, chip technology identified a novel retrovirus in human prostate cancer (PCa) tissue samples. Due to close homology to a mouse retrovirus, the virus was named xenotropic murine leukaemia virus-related virus (XMRV). Ever since the initial disease association with PCa, XMRV has stirred a lot of attention and concern worldwide for the medical community, public health officials and in particular global transfusion services. Public response, in this new era of electronic communication and advocacy was rapid, wide and unprecedented. In this review, we outline the course of biomedical research efforts that were put forward internationally in the process of determining the risk to the human population, the response of the blood banking community and review the current state of knowledge of xenotropic murine retroviruses. Although XMRV is no longer regarded as an infection of humans, a lesson was learnt in modern virology that holds deeper implications for biomedical research, particularly stem cell generation and transplantation practices.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)142-151
    Number of pages10
    JournalTransfusion Medicine
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright 2014 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


    • Blood and tissue safety
    • Murine leukemia virus
    • Public health
    • Recombinant
    • Rumor virus
    • Transfusion microbiology
    • Transfusion transmitted infection
    • XMRV


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