Creutzfeldt-Jakob, 'Mad Cow' blood test now on the horizon

(Medical Xpress)—A simple blood test for Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease and Mad Cow disease is a step closer, following a breakthrough by medical researchers at the University of Melbourne.

Using newly available genetic sequencing scientists discovered cells infected with prions (the responsible for these diseases) release particles which contain easily recognized 'signature genes'.

Associate Professor Andrew Hill—from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Bio21 Institute—said these particles travel in the blood stream, making a diagnostic blood test a possibility.

"This might provide a way to screen people who have spent time in the UK, who currently face restrictions on their ability to donate blood," he said.

"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 was linked to the deaths of nearly 200 people in Great Britain who consumed meat from infected animals in the late 1980s.

Since 2000, the Australia Red Cross Blood Service has not accepted blood from anybody who lived in the UK for more than six months between 1980 and 1996, or who received a in the UK after 1980.

The research is published in this week's Oxford University Press journal.

Lead author Dr Shayne Bellingham said the breakthrough might also help detect other human , 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.

The researchers' genetic testing focused on a form of cell discharge called exosomes.

If exosomes were infected with prions (the pathogen that causes Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease and , commonly known as ) they were found to also carry a specific signature of small genes called microRNA's.

More information: doi: 10.1093/nar/gks832

Related Stories

Mad cow detected in blood

Aug 29, 2005

Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have found a way to detect mad cow disease in blood.

Blood test for human form of mad cow disease developed

Jan 16, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- Mad cow disease is serious business in the U.K., the human form, known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob after Hans Gerhard Creutzfeldt and Alfons Maria Jakob (CJD), who independently first described its existence ...

A nano-sensor for better detection of Mad Cow Disease agent

Mar 03, 2008

In an advance in food safety, researchers in New York are reporting development of a nano-sized sensor that detects record low levels of the deadly prion proteins that cause Mad Cow Disease and other so-called prion diseases. ...

Recommended for you

Syria hit by flesh-eating maggot disease

12 hours ago

Three cases of myiasis have been reported near Damascus, marking the first appearance of the flesh-eating maggot disease in Syria, UN health experts said Friday.

Sperm can carry Ebola for 82 days: WHO

14 hours ago

Sperm can carry the Ebola virus for at least 82 days, the World Health Organization said Friday, urging men recovering from the disease to use condoms for three months after the onset of symptoms.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.