Blood Donors Feared To
Have Spread CJD To Many
By Jonathon Leake - Science Editor
Blood donated by seven people who subsequently developed variant CJD, the human form of mad cow disease, may have infected transfusion products given to many more patients, it was revealed this weekend.
The National Blood Authority has confirmed that some of the blood taken from the seven was pooled - mixed with the blood or blood products of many other donors - before it was distributed to hospitals.
The number of people who may have been affected is unknown. The authority has objected to suggestions that thousands are at risk, but has no estimates of its own.
The revelations follow experiments which show that blood from sheep that are incubating BSE but have no symptoms can transmit the disease to other sheep. Humans are equally vulnerable: blood taken from anybody incubating vCJD could theoretically spread the disease to people given blood products.
Such a case has not yet been seen with blood, although dozens of people contracted a slightly different form of CJD after being given a human growth hormone that had been extracted from corpses.
Blood from donors is usually split into its components, such as red cells, which carry oxygen; plasma, with white cells that help fight infection; and platelets, which aid clotting.
This weekend the authority confirmed that it is now considering a complete ban on the use of plasma from British donors. Most plasma is already imported, but about 100,000 units come from within Britain. The possibility that recipients of transfusions have been infected may also disqualify them from becoming blood donors.
Carlene Dyas, a spokeswoman for the authority, confirmed that the blood donated by the seven vCJD victims was taken before 1999, when the authority introduced new safety procedures designed to remove prions, the infectious proteins thought to transmit vCJD. She said: "It is very worrying, but there is nothing to show that what happens in sheep does apply to humans."
Dyas said most of the blood recipients could not be traced because records were not sufficiently detailed. More than a dozen patients known to have received blood products from people who later developed vCJD have been identified, but will not be told of the danger.
The problem is reminiscent of the spread of HIV in the 1980s when blood products transmitted the Aids virus to more than 1,200 haemophiliacs. The mistake cost the government £80m in compensation payments.
Professor Peter Smith, acting chairman of the government's spongiform encephalopathy advisory committee, confirmed there was a risk: "The concern with pooled blood products is that, as with growth hormone, an infection in one person could be spread."
Smith also acknowledged that the measures taken so far to prevent donated blood infecting others may be insufficient. Since last year, all Britishdonated blood has been stripped of its white cells, which are thought most likely to carry the infectious prion particles. Recent research indicates, however, that prions may also be carried by red cells.
Additional reporting by Roger Dobson
From Patricia Doyle, PhD
Hello Jeff,
Excellent. It really is quite frightening, isn't it.
In July, I came up with an idea for possibly, ending the continuity of prion misfolding. I thought about chaparone prions that actually correct misfolding ones. Well, I figured out that the problem is in the amino acid sequence. As you know a prion is an all protein substance with one chromosome containing an amino acid sequence. Misfolded prions contain the amino acid sequence altered.
So, my idea was to alter chaparone prions amino sequence thereby possibly ending the binding. I wrote up the idea and sent it to various scientists, including those at Harvard. Now, I see where UCI, Dr. Ian Lipkin and a Harvard Scientist have come up with the idea to alter the amino sequence to stop binding in Alzheimer's and other diseases. Hmm...Sounded mighty familiar.
Wouldn't it be funny if the team was able to come up with a way to stop prions before they become nvCJD et al. Wouldn't it be funny if they got the Nobel prize for their work? Actually, when I submitted the idea to Harvard in July, at the bottom I wrote that I would not mind earning a Nobel prize for this idea...heh.
It would really be nice if they could end this horrific illness. As baby boomer age, I am sure we shall see many Alzheimer's cases as well. The thought of a disease robbing you of your mind, memory, personality, as well as health, is extremely freightening. When I think about President Reagan, and how he was, and now, how he is, so sad.
Again, let me say kudos on your article, well done.
vCJD and Cattle Mutilations
From Gary Snyder
Has anybody considered the possibility of a link between vCJD and cattle mutilations? Has anybody run tissue tests on mutilated cattle to determine whether they have any indicators of such disease being extant?
Scientists and the medical community seem to be concentrating on how this disease moves from cattle and sheep into the human population. This may seem paranoid thinking, but what if vCJD has been specifically tailored by (insert whatever "nasty" group here, be it governmental, alien, or some other) to vector into the human population in this manner? I hate to say it, but as humans, we have constant contact with cattle and sheep to some degree or other. Whether it's through flesh consumption or use of hides and wool, the vast majority of us are not left out of the loop. And this would include "strict" vegetarians as well.
If I were attempting to develop something to infect humanity, for whatever purpose, I doubt that other than water I could come up with anything more effective (and infective) Perhaps this query is one you could pass on to "mutilation" investigators as well as researchers involved with vCJD. Between them (just) maybe they could "collectively" start looking into a possible connection or link. It's faintly possible they may be able to develop some further answers in their ongoing investigations in these matters. What makes me consider this linkage was your recent HEADLINE article regarding the close match between cattle DNA and human DNA. I have no way of knowing whether this connection exists or not, but I can't ignore the thought, or not pass it on.
Gary Snyder
From Al Sherman
While I was reading the 'Connect the Prions' article on your web site, the thought occured that maybe all the animal mutilations that have been reported might be some sort of black ops...nee the National Institute for Disease Control...checking for the spread of the disease in US.

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