22 December 1995

No sign of link with CJD

EARLY research results suggest there is no link between the cattle brain disease BSE and the human condition CJD.

The studies, using transgenic mice, with a human gene, are being carried out by Prof John Collinge, St Marys Hospital, London, who was appointed to the independent spongiform encephalopathy advisory committee (SEAC) last week.

Meat and Livestock Commission officials welcomed the study, to be published shortly, as yet another piece of evidence showing BSE is purely a cattle disease and posed no threat to humans.

But government officials and some scientists are reported to be urging caution. The governments chief medical officer, Dr Kenneth Calman told the Press the results were encouraging but that they offered "interim findings which needed further research".

Trials using transgenic mice, bred to contain the human prion gene, will give more accurate and rapid data, said Prof John Pattison, SEAC chairman.

He joined farm minister Douglas Hogg and senior government officials last week in their continued efforts to convince the public that beef is safe.

Chief medical officer Dr Kenneth Calman said he understood public concerns, but British Beef had never been safer.