A new test to screen blood for the incurable human form of mad cow disease could be available within 18 months, but it has raised concerns.
The breakthrough blood test which will be able to diagnose variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob diseases (vCJD), is currently undergoing clinical trials but experts are worried it will reduce the number of people prepared to donate blood - research suggests 1 in every 4,000 people might harbour vCJD in their blood, though 95% of them may never actually develop the full blown disease.
Variant CJD is a rare and fatal human neurodegenerative condition and is a Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE) or prion disease - because of the characteristic spongy degeneration of the brain - it is strongly linked to exposure, probably through food, to a TSE of cattle called Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).
In the early stages patients usually experience psychiatric symptoms such as depression or, less often, a schizophrenia-like psychosis.
Unusual sensory symptoms, such as "stickiness" of the skin, have been experienced by half of the cases early in the illness and neurological signs, including unsteadiness, difficulty walking and involuntary movements, which develop as the illness progresses; by the time of death, patients become completely immobile and mute.
There are at present no available, completely reliable diagnostic tests for use before the onset of clinical symptoms, but magnetic resonance scans, tonsillar biopsy and cerebrospinal fluid tests are useful for detection.
Full Story: http://www.news-medical.net/?id=42079