The work was carried out by scientists at the National CJD Surveillance Unit at the University of Edinburgh, the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service, Neuropathogenesis Unit and CSL Behring. It is published this month in the Journal of Pathology.
The team, led by Dr. Mark Head, also shows for the first time that variant CJD prions can be amplified from brain tissue samples using normal blood cells to improve the sensitivity of current detection tests. This method has the potential to be applied on other tissues and fluids, including blood. The prion amplification is dependent on genetic factors, similar to those influencing susceptibility to variant CJD.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) seems to result from conversion of a normal protein in the body to an abnormal form that is self-replicating as a prion and toxic to the brain. In variant CJD, this occurs after infection by the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) prion. Following exposure to BSE, there is a long silent period before the prion spreads to the brain and causes neurological symptoms. It is now clear that during this silent period individuals can pass variant CJD prions on to others by blood transfusion and there are also fears that the disease might also be spread by certain kinds of surgery.
One way to protect blood recipients from this threat is to screen blood donations for prions, but efforts to develop such a test have proven difficult, partly because of the very low level of prions that are likely to be present in blood.
The team stress that the work is at an early stage, but co-researcher Professor James Ironside, of the National CJD Surveillance Unit at the University of Edinburgh, said “These new findings provide us with an invaluable tool to study one of the fundamental aspects of variant CJD and take us one step closer towards supporting a test to screen for individuals who might inadvertently pass this disease on to others through blood transfusion, organ donation or surgery.”
Jennifer Beal | alfa
Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity
22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden
The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet
22.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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