"We're delighted," said Judy A. Mikovits, the lead researcher at the Whittemore Peterson Institute. "This is the first group that attempted to replicate the study using our methods." She said her group would present additional positive findings at a meeting in Washington in two weeks.
The key difference in the new study is that the government team found viruses that appeared to be polytopic. That is, they can replicate in more than one species, including mice and humans. The original virus isolated in Nevada was xenotopic — it could grow in humans but not in mice.
Alter noted that, since the original discovery, the Whittemore Peterson group has isolated the virus, grown it in culture and identified antibodies against it in humans.
Dr. Shyh-Ching Lo, director of the FDA's tissue safety laboratory program and a coauthor of Monday's report, said his team had not yet been able to isolate the virus. "We have tried very hard, but that has not been accomplished."