A collapsing scientific hypothesis led to a lawsuit and arrest

John Timmer How a collapsing scientific hypothesis led to a lawsuit and arrest

In 2006, scientists announced a provocative finding: a retrovirus called XMRV, closely related to a known virus from mice, was associated with cases of prostate cancer. But other labs, using different sets of patients, found no evidence of a viral infection. Before the controversy could be sorted out, another research group published a 2009 paper containing an even more intriguing claim. XMRV, it said, was associated with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), a disorder that some had claimed was purely psychosomatic.

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