Study examines blood test to screen for fatal variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

March 4, 2014, The JAMA Network Journals

A blood test accurately screened for infection with the agent responsible for variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), a fatal neurological disease.

vCJD is a fatal degenerative brain disorder thought to be caused by a misfolded protein (prion) in the brain and contracted most commonly through eating infected beef. Up to 3 million cattle in the United Kingdom may have been infected with BSE (), and establishing accurate prevalence estimates through screening for vCJD infection would guide public health initiatives.

The researchers previously developed a test to detect low levels of prion protein in the blood. In this study, they used the test on samples from national blood collection and prion disease centers in the U.S. and the U.K. to see if it was accurate enough to screen large numbers of people. Samples represented U.S. blood donors (n=5,000), healthy U.K. donors (n=200), patients with nonprion neurodegenerative disease (n=352), patients in whom a diagnosis was likely (n=105) and patients with confirmed vCJD (n=10).

The test was perfectly specific, meaning it was always negative in negative American donor samples and healthy U.K. patient samples. No samples tested positive from patients with nonprion neurodegenerative disorders. The test found 71.4 percent of patients with vCJD correctly tested positive.

The prion assay (test) in this study is accurate enough to screen populations at risk for vCJD. "Most importantly, the prototype vCJD assay [test] has sufficient performance to justify now screening a large U.K. population sample and at-risk groups to produce an initial estimate of the level of prionemia [prions in the blood] in the U.K. population. … A blood prevalence study would provide essential information for policy makers for deciding if routine vCJD screening is needed for blood, tissue, and organ donations and patients prior to high-risk surgical procedures."

Explore further: Mad cow disease: One in 2,000 in UK carry protein (Update)

More information: JAMA Neurol. Published online March 3, 2014. DOI: 10.1001/.jamaneurol.2013.6001

Related Stories

Mad cow disease: One in 2,000 in UK carry protein (Update)

October 14, 2013
Around one person in 2,000 in Britain carries the protein linked to the human version of mad cow disease, a figure higher than previous estimates, a study said on Tuesday.

NIH study describes fast, sensitive blood test for human prion disease

May 9, 2011
Scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), report that they have developed a method—10,000 times more sensitive than other methods—to ...

Blood test for human form of mad cow disease developed

January 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 ...

Recommended for you

Research reveals atomic-level changes in ALS-linked protein

January 18, 2018
For the first time, researchers have described atom-by-atom changes in a family of proteins linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a group of brain disorders known as frontotemporal dementia and degenerative diseases ...

Fragile X finding shows normal neurons that interact poorly

January 18, 2018
Neurons in mice afflicted with the genetic defect that causes Fragile X syndrome (FXS) appear similar to those in healthy mice, but these neurons fail to interact normally, resulting in the long-known cognitive impairments, ...

How your brain remembers what you had for dinner last night

January 17, 2018
Confirming earlier computational models, researchers at University of California San Diego and UC San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues in Arizona and Louisiana, report that episodic memories are encoded in the hippocampus ...

Recording a thought's fleeting trip through the brain

January 17, 2018
University of California, Berkeley neuroscientists have tracked the progress of a thought through the brain, showing clearly how the prefrontal cortex at the front of the brain coordinates activity to help us act in response ...

Midbrain 'start neurons' control whether we walk or run

January 17, 2018
Locomotion comprises the most fundamental movements we perform. It is a complex sequence from initiating the first step, to stopping when we reach our goal. At the same time, locomotion is executed at different speeds to ...

Miles Davis is not Mozart: The brains of jazz and classical pianists work differently

January 16, 2018
Keith Jarret, world-famous jazz pianist, once answered in an interview when asked if he would ever be interested in doing a concert where he would play both jazz and classical music: "No, that's hilarious. [...] It's like ...

0 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.