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!
Complete skin regeneration system of fish unraveled
24.04.2018 | Tokyo Institute of Technology
Scientists generate an atlas of the human genome using stem cells
24.04.2018 | The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.
Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...
Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.
Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...
University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.
Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
24.04.2018 | Information Technology
24.04.2018 | Earth Sciences
24.04.2018 | Life Sciences