Scientists unveil new mad cow test

NEW YORK, New York, September 8, 2003 (ENS): Researchers at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) say they may have found a faster, more reliable test for identifying mad cow disease - possibly even in living cows. Current tests can only detect the disease after the cow dies.

Critics argue that the standard immunoassay tests used to identify the infectious prion proteins that cause mad cow disease are inadequate for large scale screening of cattle. The tests can produce false readings and may take a week to yield results.

The new test, which has already undergone animal studies, can detect prion proteins with 100 percent accuracy at much smaller levels than conventional tests and only takes about five hours to produce results, according to the UCSF researchers.

Like conventional tests, the new test is designed for detecting prions in the brain tissue of cows only upon autopsy. Unlike other tests, however, the new test also shows promise for detecting the proteins in muscle tissue and even blood while the animal is still alive.

If so, it could be used to identify precisely which animals are infected before they show symptoms and could help end the current practice of slaughtering whole herds, the scientists say.

"This represents a new generation of prion tests," says project leader Dr. Jiri Safar, an associate adjunct professor at University of California and a member of the school's Institute of Neurodegenerative Diseases. "It is the most promising test to date for accurately detecting prion proteins."

Called the conformation-dependent immunoassay (CDI), the test was described Friday at the 226th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

Safar says the test has been used in a field trial to check for signs of the disease in the brains of 11,000 slaughtered cows in Spain, the United Kingdom and Germany.

Results were compared to those from standard immunoassays performed on the same animals. There were no discrepancies between the tests, according to Safar.

"We had a perfect score. There were no false positives and no false negatives," says Safar. "We can not afford incorrect conclusions, and we did not see that in our tests."

The research group plans to use the test on an even larger scale among European cattle herds within the next year, checking them for signs of the disease upon autopsy.

If further tests prove successful, Safar hopes it will eventually be used to evaluate dead cows in this country for mad cow disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephelopathy, or BSE.


Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2003. All Rights Reserved
http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/sep2003/2003-09-08-09.asp#anchor8


Recent news and research

404 Not Found
bluehost Affordable, Reliable
Web Hosting Solutions.

404 Error File Not Found

The page you are looking for might have been removed,
had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable.

Web Hosting provided by Bluehost.com

Stay Up-to-Date –
Sign up for our Newsletter

NewFarm.org changes daily! Don't miss out on the latest interactive features, columns and news. Sign up now for our monthly e-newsletter and stay connected.

ACTION ALERTS

•Free the meat markets! End packer ownership and stop closed-door deals

• Support Saskatchewan farmers in efforts to block GM wheat

• Stop budget cuts to conservation programs--the one's that help you pay for environmentally sound farming practices!

Share Your Stories

Are you a farmer? A consumer? Whatever story you have to tell, let it be an inspiration to others.
Share it with us now...

T H E    N E W    F A R M – R E G E N E R A T I V E    A G R I C U L T U R E    W O R L D W I D E