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Closing in on a 'Mad Cow' Blood Test

Friday, 14 September 2012 01:28 PM

Australian scientists have identified “signature genes” associated with the human version of Mad Cow disease that could pave the way for a new blood test for the baffling condition.
Using new genetic testing techniques, University of Melbourne scientists discovered cells infected with prions – the infectious agent responsible for the disease – release particles that contain recognizable genes that show up in the blood stream.
"This might provide a way to screen people who have spent time in the U.K., who currently face restrictions on their ability to donate blood," said lead researcher Andrew Hill. "With a simple blood test nurses could deem a prospective donor's blood as healthy, with the potential to significantly boost critical blood stocks."
Mad Cow disease – technically known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease when it infects humans and Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy when it strikes cows – has been implicated in the deaths of nearly 200 people in Great Britain who consumed meat from infected animals in the late 1980s.
Since 2000, the Red Cross Blood Service has not accepted blood from anybody who lived in the U.K. for more than six months between 1980 and 1996, or who received a blood transfusion in the U.K. after 1980.
Co-researcher Dr. Shayne Bellingham said the new findings, published in the Oxford University Press journal Nucleic Acids Research, might also help detect other human neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
"This is an exciting new field where we can test for conditions in the brain and throughout the body, without being invasive," he said.

© HealthDay

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'Signature genes' have been discovered for Mad Cow disease that could lead to a blood test for the baffling condition.
Friday, 14 September 2012 01:28 PM
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