Top Nobel Scientist Wants
ALL Britons Tested For CJD
Nobel Laureate Warns Of Prions Found In Animal Muscle
How Many Prions Does It Take To Become Infected?

By Richard Woodman

LONDON (Reuters Health) - The scientist who won the Nobel prize for discovering prions, the abnormal proteins implicated in mad cow disease, has called for all Britons to be tested for the deadly brain ailment after finding surprisingly high prion levels in the muscles of mice infected with a similar illness, British newspapers reported Sunday.
Professor Stanley Prusiner of the University of California, San Francisco, told the Independent that the finding raised the "obvious worry" that cows and sheep could be similarly affected. Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), has been linked to a similar illness in humans who ate contaminated meat. Sheep can carry a related illness called scrapie.
Until now, levels of prions in infected cow and sheep meat and muscle tissue were always believed to be low enough not to pose a significant risk of transmission and the emphasis was to remove the brain and spinal cord, which harbor much higher levels.
However, according to the newspaper, new tests being pioneered at the University of California are far more sensitive and have discovered higher concentrations of prions in muscle than have previously been found.
While describing the findings as significant, Prusiner stressed that the levels are still 100-fold less than those found in brains.
He called for testing of everyone in Britain to establish the true extent of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), which has killed 117 people since 1995.
"A million cattle infected with BSE entered the British food chain so almost everyone in the country will have been exposed to the infectious prion proteins that cause variant CJD. Every Briton should be tested so that if they are developing the disease it can be spotted before symptoms appear," he told the Sunday Times.
Prusiner was in Britain to discuss research into the disease.
Last week scientists at University College London reported that research on mice suggested BSE caused the "sporadic" strain of CJD, as well as variant CJD, which, if confirmed, could significantly increase the number of potential victims.


This Site Served by TheHostPros