Research ArticlePRION DISEASES

Detection of prions in blood from patients with variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

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Science Translational Medicine  21 Dec 2016:
Vol. 8, Issue 370, pp. 370ra183
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaf6188

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A new blood test for prion diseases

Prions are the proteinaceous infectious agents responsible for various animal and human diseases. The transmission of bovine spongiform encephalopathy into humans has led to a new illness, termed variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD). Currently, the number of people infected by this new disease is unknown, which is a major concern because it has been shown that preclinical carriers of vCJD prions can transmit the disease by blood transfusion. Now, Concha-Marambio et al. report the development of a biochemical test to detect vCJD prions in blood with 100% sensitivity and specificity. Availability of a highly efficient blood test for vCJD is important to minimize further transmission of the disease, to increase blood safety, and to allow early diagnosis of this disease.