New evidence on CJD/BSE

3 October 1997

New evidence on CJD/BSE

SCIENTISTS say they have discovered the most compelling evidence to date that new variant Creutzfeldt Jacob Disease (nvCJD), which has been confirmed in 21 people, is directly linked to BSE.

The link, which has been accepted by John Pattison, chairman of governments BSE advisory committee SEAC, has increased the calls for a public inquiry into the handling of the BSE crisis. NFU deputy president Tony Pexton agreed that an inquiry would enable the industry to assess whether past procedures were adequate, as well as learning lessons for any future crisis.

John Collinge, leader of the team at St Marys hospital, London, which was involved in the latest research, said he believed it was now inescapable that nvCJD was the human equivalent of BSE and that eating beef was probably to blame for the human cases.

The research, published in this weeks issue of the science journal Nature, revealed that tests on mice in Edinburgh and London showed that those injected with nvCJD died at the same times as mice infected by BSE. And when the brains were examined the damage was identical.

Prof Pattison said that although the rate of new nvCJD cases was not increasing, providing some hope that the overall number would be relatively small, it could still take several years before scientists could be confident that "this is not a period of comparative calm before a storm".

He backed calls from other leading scientists and the families of nvCJD victims for a public inquiry into the handling of the BSE saga.

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