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Improved Methods for Prion Detection

Drukier, Andrzej
Biotraces, Inc
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The overall objective of this project is to develop more sensitive immunoassays for detecting the prions that cause bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and scrapie. For BSE in particular, there is evidence that the causative agent is present in blood, but current assays are not sensitive enough to detect it.
More information
The multi-photon detection (MPD) technology, developed by BioTraces, enables more sensitive immunoassays (IA/MPDs) for prions. These improved assays may be capable of detecting infections from blood samples of live animals before physical symptoms are apparent.

Animal diseases caused by prions may be transmitted to humans and can now only be detected by examing brain tissue of slaughtered animals. The goal of this project is to develop a blood-based test for disease causing prions.

To achieve blood based detection of prions a number of assay improvements are required. First, methods for sample enrichment, including the use of putatively PrPTSE specific antibodies must be developed. Second, the proteolytic digestion of PrPC must be optimized. Third, the assay sensitivity for prions in blood must be improved to 50 fg/ml. These three steps lay the foundation for testing of animal samples. Rodent models will be used first to validate the method and then ovine samples will be used to validate an agriculturally useful system.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
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Sanitation and Quality Standards
Viruses and Prions