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 infectious agent 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 blood transfusion in the UK after 1980.
(Photo by Peter Cade via Getty Images)