A new test for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or commonly referred to as “mad cow disease” has been developed by a team of Japanese and Australian researchers.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is degenerative brain disease that affects the central nervous system in humans. It is rare, yet fatal.
The usual form of the disease termed as sporadic CJD affects about over two in a million people according to the Australian National Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Registry. It became popular in the 1990’s as mad cow disease after cases where people contracted a form of CDJ, called vCDJ, after having eaten beef from cows with bovine spongiform encephalopathy were reported.
Mad cow disease affects both humans and animals and belongs to a group of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies or prion diseases. These diseases have characteristics that can be associated with infectious abnormal prion protein accumulation in the central nervous system. This protein, known as PrPSc, does not disintegrate and therefore accumulates, creating clusters in the brain tissue that make it look spongy.
The new method shall provide a fast, specific, and accurate diagnosis for mad cow disease, and to avoid unnecessary tests on people who are suspected of having the disease.
The researchers added that the new test overcomes false positive results from 12-3-3 protein test brought about by other tests.
The current test to confirm a case of CJD requires PrPSc detection in biopsy specimens, a method that involves invasive techniques in people suspected positive of the disease. Moreover, tests for CJD may risk patients of infections.