XMRV Virus Latest Worry in Blood Transfusions

Since the 1980's - when reports of blood transfusions from AIDS-infected donors were found transmitted to recipients - blood banks have been scrupulous in screening donors and testing for tainted blood. Today, the latest scientific methods screen out most diseases. However, blood banks and liability issues have risen again with the discovery of xenotropic murine leukemia (XMRV).

What is Xenotropic Murine Leukemia?

XMRV is a virus known to cause cancer in certain mice. It was discovered originally in patients with prostate cancer.

XMRS is categorized as a retrovirus. And, because all retroviruses are transmitted by blood, medical experts are presumably concerned that blood transfusions could transmit the virus to recipients.

No Standardized Test for XMRV

Unlike AIDS testing, which utilizes standardized, validated tests, no standardized test currently exists for XMRV, though the CDC, NIH, and FDA are all working to reach a consensus on standards.

Blood banks are held liable under the law if they fail to follow established safety and testing procedures. Because there are presently no requirement for testing blood for XMRV, it's unlikely blood banks will be held accountable should a blood recipient claim he or she contracted XMRV from a transfusion.

Studies are still being conducted in an attempt to create a reliable screening test for the virus.