29 March 1996

Mice help transmission work

TRANSMISSION experiments are underway using transgenic mice. They carry their own mouse protein and human variety.

When the mice were infected with CJD, they died and the abnormal protein associated with the disease was the human type.

But when challenged with BSE, the mice again developed the disease but only due to the creation of abnormal mouse prion protein. The BSE prions had a choice of species barriers and chose the mouse rather than the human one.

Further studies are in progress using different mice which make only a normal human protein and none of the mouse protein. Evidence that BSE can jump to humans would come if these mice develop prion disease. So far when challenged with BSE, incubation for the human agent has been exceeded. The final result may not be known for about two years.