Monday, March 5, 2001
One of the problems governments face in dealing with mad cow disease is
that existing diagnostics for transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, which include
bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cows, scrapie in sheep, and new variant
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (nvCJD) in humans, rely on samples of central nervous system
tissues, which can only be gathered from animals that have already been slaughtered.
Blood-based tests would be better, because they would not require the wholesale slaughter
of herds after one contaminated animal was found.
Last week, researchers from the Roslin Institute (Midlothian, U.K.)
reported in Nature Medicine that they have found a surrogate marker for TSE
infection that could do the trick.