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Wednesday 26th June 2019

vCJD blood test developed

3rd February 2011

British scientists have developed a blood test to help offer patients the chance of earlier diagnosis of variant CJD.


At present, patients suspected of having the human form of BSE have to undergo a series of tests, including a brain biopsy to confirm that they have the condition.

The Lancet has now reported that the new test can identify those with the condition at an earlier stage and may be able to screen donor blood, though further research is needed before it can be widely used to screen healthy people who may be silent carriers.

Professor John Collinge of the Medical Research Council is one of the doctors involved in the research and plans to begin using the new test on patients in his clinic straight away.

“An earlier diagnosis will give patients and their families more time to plan what they would like to do in the time left available to them,” he said.

Variant CJD, often referred to as mad cow disease, affects the brain and is believed to have passed from cattle to humans through infected food. There have been 170 confirmed deaths in the UK, but it has been suggested that one in 4,000 Britons could be incubating the incurable degenerative disorder without symptoms.

Lead author of the research, Dr Graham Jackson of the Medical Research Council's Prion Unit, said: “This test could potentially go on to allow blood services to screen the population for vCJD infection, assess how many people in the UK are silent carriers and prevent onward transmission of the disease.”


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