Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Prion find points way to test for human 'mad cow' disease

10.07.2006
'Silent' vCJD phase can last 40 years in humans; assay could reveal extent of problem and stop further infection via transfusions and transplants

In the July 7, 2006, issue of the journal Science, researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) describe experiments that may soon lead to a test that will enable medical science to estimate how many people are infected with the human form of mad cow disease, which can take as long as 40 years before manifesting itself.

Such a blood test could also help prevent accidental transmission of the malformed proteins that cause variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) via blood transfusions and organ transplants, the scientists suggest.

Done in hamsters, the experiments are the first ever to biochemically detect the malformed proteins during the "silent phase" of the disease--just weeks after the animals were infected and months before they showed clinical symptoms.

The scientists say that they detected prions--the infectious proteins responsible for such brain-destroying disorders as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle and vCJD in humans--in the blood of the hamsters in as few as 20 days after the animals had been infected. That discovery occurred about three months before the hamsters began showing clinical symptoms of the disease, the Science paper reports.

To detect the very small quantities of prions found in blood samples, UTMB professor Claudio Soto, assistant professor Joaquin Castilla and research assistant Paula Saá used a technique known as protein misfolding cyclic amplification (PMCA), invented by Soto's group, which greatly accelerates the process by which prions convert normal proteins to misshapen infectious forms.

"With this method, for the first time we have detected prions in what we call the silent phase of infection, which in humans can last up to 40 years," said Soto, senior author of the Science paper.

"The concern is that if many people are incubating the disease silently, then secondary transmission from human to human by blood transfusion or surgical procedures could become a big problem," he continued. "This result is an important step toward a practical biochemical test that will determine how common variant CJD is, and keep contaminated blood and organs from spreading it further."

Creating such a test is a high priority for Soto, who is also director of UTMB's George and Cynthia Mitchell Center for Alzheimer's Disease. "We're now working with natural samples, both from humans and cattle but mostly from humans," he said. With an eye toward making a human test commercially available, Soto and UTMB recently formed a startup company, dubbed "Amprion."

"All our effort so far has been to prove the scientific concepts, so we're building this company to go into issues of development, scalability and practicality," Soto said. "We are hopeful that development of this technology into a useful blood test will be a pretty straightforward process."

Jim Kelly | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utmb.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht More genes are active in high-performance maize
19.01.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht How plants see light
19.01.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Let the good tubes roll

19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine

Meteoritic stardust unlocks timing of supernova dust formation

19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>