20 June 1997

Scrapie cash award

SCRAPIE research is to benefit from £3.8m funding, awarded to the Institute for Animal Health.

Funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, will investigate cause, disease processes and epidemiology of scrapie.

About £3m will be spent on identifying how scrapie develops in sheep, how it is transmitted within and between flocks, its persistence in flocks and how the genetic factors which make some sheep more susceptible than others influence the incidence of natural scrapie.

Part of the study will involve a detailed examination of the natural disease in UK sheep breeds, and in experimentally infected scrapie-free, but susceptible, sheep imported from New Zealand.

A further £500,000 is to be spent on new specialist facilities for scrapie research at the Institute for Animal Healths Compton and Edinburgh sites.

In addition, £265,000 will be used to establish a centre at the Institute for Animal Health which will supply the highly specialised reagents necessary for research on scrapie and other transmissible spongiform encephalopathies.

According to Chris Bostock, IAH director, the new research will give a better understanding of scrapie, with the aim of developing an eradication strategy based on sound science.

"We hope to have enough knowledge within the next four to five years to develop a mathematical model which will allow us to test eradication procedures."