Saturday, 25 December 2010
"And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."
C H Spurgeon's Morning Devotional for December 25th -
“Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
Isaiah 7 v 14
Let us today go down to Bethlehem, and in company with wondering shepherds and adoring Magi, let us see him who was born King of the Jews, for we by faith can claim an interest in him, and can sing, “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.” Jesus is Jehovah incarnate, our Lord and our God, and yet our brother and friend; let us adore and admire. Let us notice at the very first glance his miraculous conception. It was a thing unheard of before, and unparalleled since, that a virgin should conceive and bear a Son. The first promise ran thus, “The seed of the woman,” not the offspring of the man. Since venturous woman led the way in the sin which brought forth Paradise lost, she, and she alone, ushers in the Regainer of Paradise. Our Saviour, although truly man, was as to his human nature the Holy One of God. Let us reverently bow before the holy Child whose innocence restores to manhood its ancient glory; and let us pray that he may be formed in us, the hope of glory. Fail not to note his humble parentage. His mother has been described simply as “a virgin,” not a princess, or prophetess, nor a matron of large estate. True the blood of kings ran in her veins; nor was her mind a weak and untaught one, for she could sing most sweetly a song of praise; but yet how humble her position, how poor the man to whom she stood affianced, and how miserable the accommodation afforded to the new-born King!
Immanuel, God with us in our nature, in our sorrow, in our lifework, in our punishment, in our grave, and now with us, or rather we with him, in resurrection, ascension, triumph, and Second Advent splendour.
From "Echoes of Eternity", a collection of Christian poems by Michael R Abbot; used with permission -
The Saviour promised long,
The Christ, Immanuel,
Only begotten Son of God,
With us is come to dwell.
The promise of the ages He,
Who comes to set the prisoner free
And save lost souls from hell.
He is the Way, and He alone
Can lead a sinner to God's throne.
He is the Truth and they who heed
His word, will find in Him their need;
He is the Bread on which we feed.
He is the Life, the Light.
Both Alpha and Omega He,
A King for all eternity,
The Everlasting Prince of Peace,
There is no end of His increase;
The blessed and only Potentate
Before Whose throne we fall,
The Holy One of Israel,
The Righteous Judge of all.
With God before the World began,
Both Son of God and Son of Man,
The first begotten from the dead,
The Church's risen, living Head:
For her He died,
For her He bled;
Upon the cross His blood He shed,
That she His bride might be;
Then rose victorious from the grave
That she, the one He came to save,
Might dwell with Him on high.
A prince of David's royal line,
From Jesse's stem a rod,
To smite the wicked in the earth,
An ensign raised by God.
To Him the nations gather now:
From east and west,
To Him they bow.
The Lamb of God, our sacrifice,
And yet our Great High Priest;
Shepherd and Bishop of our souls,
Who spreads for us a feast;
Faithful and True in all His ways,
Deserving of unceasing praise,
JEHOVAH, GREAT I AM.
Thursday, 23 December 2010
Biomedical Research into ME
Proper Science Will Prevail
The journal Retrovirology has recently published (20 Dec 2010) results from four different groups (Hue et al., Sato et al., Oakes et al. and Robinson et al.)  which dispute the association of XMRV with ME/CFS or prostate cancer and suggest evidence of possible mouse contamination of PCR evidence. Hue et al. go as far as to say that XMRV might not be a genuine human pathogen.
Until now it has been accepted by the scientific community that an infectious XMRV exists and the only debate has been whether its association with ME/CFS can be replicated or validated by other researchers.
Invest in ME feel that it is good that the papers in Retrovirology have been published for closer scrutiny by other experts in the field as there are many distinguished scientist involved on both sides of the scientific debate. We only question the motives and timing of the publication of these papers.
We expect and demand that these papers will be scrutinised as thoroughly as has been the case of the papers stating an association of XMRV and ME/CFS or prostate cancer.
Many media outlets were astonishingly quick to pick up this story from the Retrovirology journal. The BBC quoted Professor Tim Peto as saying
It is worth pointing out that Professor Peto is in the Trial Management Group of the soon to be published PACE trials, a trial which was heavily criticised before it even started by patients and most ME charities. The Trial Management Group also includes proponents of ME/CFS being a somatoform illness.
“It now seems really very, very unlikely that XMRV is linked to chronic fatigue syndrome patients ."
Invest in ME firmly believe that the PACE trials are bogus science and are the culmination of a decade of squandered resources from biased policies toward ME/CFS research. The folly of the PACE trials was extensively illustrated by the "Magical Medicine - How to Make an Illness Disappear" document  and we feel they can be discarded for any sensible discussion about ME/CFS.
The WPI have issued a press release  in which they state that -
The recent research studies in Retrovirology need to be viewed in context. We openly wonder about a possible coordinated establishment propaganda campaign to boost the forthcoming PACE trials publication by coordinating a number of research papers to be published simultaneously.
"Humans cannot make antibodies to viruses related to murine leukemia viruses unless they have been exposed to virus proteins. Therefore, recent publications regarding PCR contamination do not change the conclusions of the Lombardi et al. and Lo et al. studies that concluded that patients with ME/CFS are infected with human gammaretroviruses."
It is worth emphasising again that the original Science paper was extensively peer reviewed. Using the "contamination argument" not only attempts to impinge the reputation of the WPI but also the Cleveland Clinic and the National Cancer Institute as well as Science magazine - and such heavyweight researchers as Dr Harvey Alter. Contamination was carefully ruled out by Lo et al. and Lombardi et al. The peer reviewers at Science and PNAS made sure of this.
We should also remember the observations from Dr David Bell made in May this year  where he commented on tactics being used to hamper the WPI research. Although the establishment bias of trying to promote ME/CFS as a behavioural illness has now clearly been discredited as a ridiculous smokescreen using poor research the efforts to thwart proper science are still going on.
Amy Dockser Marcus, a Wall Street journalist who has been following ME/CFS research closely, published an article  on this matter. This quotes other authors of this collection of Retrovirology papers, such as Professor John Coffin and assistant professor Robert Smith, author of the commentary, as being cautious of dismissing previous studies. This does not concur with Professor Peto's remark to the BBC above in which he seemingly dismisses any link between XMRV and ME/CFS.
Medical research has historically been in denial of new ideas and advancement due to dogma and inertia from establishment forces. Doctors, for example, would still be treating patients with peptic ulcers with stress reduction techniques and lifestyle management were it not for the example of Professor Barry Marshall, who infected himself with helicobacter pylori and subsequently treated himself with antibiotics to prove causality. . Without such pioneering research progress is often stunted, or discarded.
How can we make progress? Patients need to be trialling treatments under proper supervision. A sensible approach might be to establish a few well controlled clinical trials to be performed on patients who are so ill that they have practically nothing to lose by trying out treatments such as antiretrovirals, where appropriate, to determine if there is improvement in their condition. It is about time something tangible is done to help these desperate patients and to progress proper science.
To this end Invest in ME will use the The Case for Clinical Trials as a theme for the 6th Invest in ME International ME/CFS Conference on 20th May 2011 . We feel it is time to effect translational biomedical research and bring the benefits of such research to patients. It is also why we are trying to establish an examination and research facility to perform translational biomedical research into ME/CFS .
Invest in ME have invited the UK Secretary of State for Health, the Chief Medical Officer of England, the EU Commissioner for Health and many of Europe's health ministers to the conference. We have also invited the editor of the British Medical Journal to participate in a panel discussion - no longer can the BMJ publish poorly researched editorials on ME/CFS if it refuses to attend the annual IiME international ME/CFS Conference.
In May 2011 we will welcome again the President of the WPI Mrs Annette Whittemore and the Research Director Dr Judy Mikovits to London and will willingly (once again) provide the opportunity for politicians, the media and healthcare providers and researchers to attend the conference and listen and discuss with the foremost researchers on ME/CFS.
The WPI have shown themselves to be open and willing to cooperate - quite unique qualities in scientific research from what we can see. One thing that is clear is that the WPI is focused on helping ME/CFS patients to regain their lives - an attribute which seems often to be missing from some researchers, spokespersons and establishment organisations.
The WPI research on XMRV has offered new hope to people with ME/CFS that proper science is finally being performed to provide a future for patients.
Hopefully more funding will now be directed toward biomedical research into ME/CFS to enable progress regarding this devastating disease. As Dr Harvey Alter of National Institute of Health recently said his group had ruled out contamination and if whatever his group found is not MLV related viruses then scientists must find out what it is as the disease these ME/CFS patients have carry hallmarks of a viral disease.
We concur - virology and immunology are the likely keys to finding a treatment/cure.
We hope that scientific progress will continue at a much faster pace than in the past and that politics are not once again allowed to destroy all hope for ME/CFS patients.
We believe that proper science will prevail. Look to the end.
3 Statement Issued by Whittemore-Peterson Institute - 20 December 2010
Invest in ME
Registered UK Charity Nr. 1114035
PO BOX 561, Eastleigh SO50 0GQ
Wednesday, 15 December 2010
O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by:
Yet in thy dark street shineth
The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.
O morning stars, together
Proclaim the holy birth,
And praises sing to God the King,
And peace to men on earth;
For Christ is born of Mary;
And, gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love.
How silently, how silently,
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming;
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him, still
The dear Christ enters in.
O holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in;
Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Immanuel.
Phillips Brooks, 1835 - 1893
Monday, 6 December 2010
Possible New HIV-like Retrovirus in Blood Supply
CORAL GABLES, Fla., Dec. 6, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In an unprecedented move, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patients published a half-page ad in The Washington Post today. The ad brings attention to new, HIV-like retroviruses, including XMRV, which have been linked to CFS and aggressive prostate cancer, and have been detected in healthy blood donors. The ad was created through the ME/CFS Worldwide Patient Alliance (MCWPA), a grassroots patient collaboration formed in August 2010 with the support of P.A.N.D.O.R.A., Inc. From their beds and wheelchairs, patients spent decades watching researchers, scientists and physicians debate about the cause or nature of their illness. Now, they are adding their voice through a campaign that calls for biomedical research funding, fast-track treatment options and improved patient quality of life. CFS, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis or ME/CFS, is a disabling, sometimes fatal NeuroEndocrineImmune disease that afflicts more than one million Americans and an estimated l7 million people worldwide.
ME/CFS first gained national attention amidst the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s. As early as 1991, a retroviral link to ME/CFS was discovered by Dr. Elaine DeFreitas of the Wistar Institute, but subsequent retroviral research was halted by the government. Although more than 4,000 peer-reviewed articles in medical journals have pointed to system-wide immune, neurological, endocrine, gastro-intestinal and cardiac abnormalities, a biologically-based diagnostic definition has eluded doctors. The result has been a catastrophic lack of care, ineffective (sometimes harmful) treatments and a shorter life span for those who are ill. The leading causes of death among patients are heart disease, cancer and suicide. The disease occurs in people of all ages, from children to seniors, and also has a higher incidence rate in families and has occurred in cluster outbreaks.
"This can happen to anyone," said Sita G. Harrison, spokeswoman for the MCWPA. "ME/CFS is devastating and the lack of care has hurt us all. We ask the government and health care agencies that we put our trust in to help the millions of people who are suffering and to fund more research now."
A major scientific breakthrough occurred in October 2009 when the Whittemore Peterson Institute (WPI) at the University of Nevada, Reno, working with the National Cancer Institute and Cleveland Clinic, published the results of a landmark study. The seminal study, published in the leading scientific journal, Science, discovered the third human retrovirus, XMRV, in the blood of 67% of ME/CFS patients and in 3.7% of healthy controls. This suggests that up to 10 million US citizens could already be infected. This finding was later confirmed by the FDA, NIH and Harvard Medical School in a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Their results linked a family of human gamma retroviruses (to which XMRV belongs) to ME/CFS at a rate of 86.5% and 6.8% in the healthy population, bringing the total of Americans who may be infected up to 20 million people.
"The NIAID, the national institute responsible for infectious disease research, has yet to fund XMRV research in ME/CFS or any other disease," explains Annette Whittemore, President of WPI. "WPI has had its last six XMRV-related grant proposals turned down; despite the fact that our researchers have proven XMRV is transmissible and infectious."
MCWPA is advocating for a budget that is in line with other NeuroEndocrineImmune diseases. Currently, only $5 million for ME/CFS research is in the NIH budget, far less than similar diseases such as multiple sclerosis ($l44 million) and lupus ($121 million). Patients also ask for antiretroviral and Ampligen clinical trials that have shown great promise in mitigating the effects of ME/CFS.
For more information, to donate, or for more resources and spokespeople, including leading researchers, scientists, physicians, patients, and historians please visit http://mcwpa.org/ .
About MCWPA: Our mission is to create an effective, cutting-edge advertising campaign addressing the poor quality of life of individuals with ME/CFS. By issuing a collective and unified statement, our community will no longer be silent and invisible. The MCWPA ad campaign is supported by P.A.N.D.O.R.A. Inc.™, Vermont CFIDS Association, Inc., R.E.S.C.I.N.D., Rocky Mountain CFS/ME and FM Association and the Wisconsin ME/CFS Association, Inc.
Friday, 3 December 2010
Upon this earth He walked:
He lived, He breathed, He talked;
He healed the sick and raised the dead,
Five thousand fed with fish and bread;
At His command the tempest fled
And water turned to wine.
The devils trembled at His name
And all the world heard of His fame.
He is the incarnate Word:
God manifest in flesh,
The voice divine is heard;
By Him the souls of men are stirred;
In Him the love of God revealed;
Through Him redemption’s promise sealed.
Only begotten Son of God,
The image of His face.
Messiah, Saviour, Christ,
The source and fount of grace.
Upon the Cross He died,
A sacrifice for sin,
Atoning by His blood,
A pardon there to win
For all who call
Upon His name,
For all who fall
Before the throne
His death to own,
The gift, by faith, to claim.
Upon the Father’s throne He sits,
Eternal Lord and King:
The angels fly at His command,
The saints His praises sing.
His work complete,
Beneath His feet
His enemies shall fall,
Upon the Judgment Day
At that last trumpet call.
To Him be honour, glory, power,
With majesty and might.
To Him let worship ever flow,
The God and King of light.
Wednesday, 1 December 2010
C H Spurgeon's Morning Devotional for December 1st
“Thou hast made summer and winter.”
My soul begin this wintry month with thy God. The cold snows and the piercing winds all remind thee that he keeps his covenant with day and night, and tend to assure thee that he will also keep that glorious covenant which he has made with thee in the person of Christ Jesus. He who is true to his Word in the revolutions of the seasons of this poor sin-polluted world, will not prove unfaithful in his dealings with his own well-beloved Son.
Winter in the soul is by no means a comfortable season, and if it be upon thee just now it will be very painful to thee: but there is this comfort, namely, that the Lord makes it. He sends the sharp blasts of adversity to nip the buds of expectation: he scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes over the once verdant meadows of our joy: he casteth forth his ice like morsels freezing the streams of our delight. He does it all, he is the great Winter King, and rules in the realms of frost, and therefore thou canst not murmur. Losses, crosses, heaviness, sickness, poverty, and a thousand other ills, are of the Lord’s sending, and come to us with wise design. Frosts kill noxious insects, and put a bound to raging diseases; they break up the clods, and sweeten the soil. O that such good results would always follow our winters of affliction!
How we prize the fire just now! how pleasant is its cheerful glow! Let us in the same manner prize our Lord, who is the constant source of warmth and comfort in every time of trouble. Let us draw nigh to him, and in him find joy and peace in believing. Let us wrap ourselves in the warm garments of his promises, and go forth to labours which befit the season, for it were ill to be as the sluggard who will not plough by reason of the cold; for he shall beg in summer and have nothing.