Prions Fueling A Public Health Disaster
Urine can be used to test for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Unfortunately, it also is a pathway that spreads prion disease among mammals.
The Medical Research Council team is working on a simple test. They claim that their prototype test still needs honing before it could be used routinely. Currently there is no easy test available for this rare but fatal brain condition. Instead, doctors have to take a sample of spinal fluid or brain tissue, or wait for a post-mortem after death. What they look for is tell-tale deposits of abnormal proteins called prions, which cause the brain damage.
Building on earlier US work, Dr. Graham Jackson and colleagues, from University College London, have now found it is also possible to detect prions in urine. This might offer a way to diagnose CJD rapidly and earlier, they say, although there is no cure.
CJD is a rare, but fatal degenerative brain disorder caused by abnormal proteins called prions that damage brain cells. In the 1990s it became clear that a brain disease could be passed from cows to humans (it can also be passed from humans to other mammals). Since then, officials have kept a close check on how many people have become sick or died from CJD. There is no known cure.
The study looked at urine samples from 162 people. Of these:
- 91 were healthy controls
- 34 had neurological disease that was not thought to be caused by CJD
- 37 had a diagnosis of CJD (20 of these were sporadic CJD)
The urine test gave no “false-positive” results – meaning it did not falsely suggest there was CJD in any of the patients known not to have the disease. But it was less reliable when it came to detecting actual cases. It accurately detected just under half of the sporadic CJD patients and even fewer of the vCJD patients. The researchers hope they will be able to improve the test further so it can reliably detect all types of CJD.
“Although there is currently no cure for this disease, an accurate and early diagnosis is extremely important for patients and their families, said Dr. Jackson. “In the future, as trials of potential therapies become available, the earlier a patient can be diagnosed the more effective any treatment is likely to be. This test could be a critical step forward.”
Editor’s Note: Prion disease is a spectrum disease that includes Alzheimer’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, mad cow disease, chronic wasting disease and is likely a contributing factor in the global rise in autism. Victims are infectious long before they exhibit symptoms. Misinformation and mismanagement of sewage and wastewater are contributing to the global epidemic in neurodegenerative disease. As more people get the disease, the waste stream becomes even deadler. It’s time to regulate wastewater streams, including biosolids, as infectious waste and it’s time to enforce the Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002.
Neurodegenerative News via http://www.bbc.com/news/health-37541550?post_id=10153608943738725_10154203430888725