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Mad cow disease blood test 'first'.

THE first reliable blood test for the human form of mad cow disease has been developed by British scientists.

The breakthrough could transform diagnosis and screening of the fatal brain disorder and identify carriers.

It could also help scientists assess how many Britons may be incubating the disease.

Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) is the human equivalent of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), which affects cattle.

VCJD causes the brain to become full of holes, leading to mental problems, loss of body function and death.

People can harbour the infectious proteins, believed to spread the disease, for years while not having symptoms. During this time, they can transmit the disease.

Until now, there has been no way of telling if someone has vCJD except by examining their brain tissue.

The blood test developed by scientists at the Medical Research Council is 100,000 times more sensitive than any studied before.

Researcher Dr Graham Jackson, based at University College London, said: "It's the best hope yet of a successful early diagnostic test for the disease.

"It could go on to allow blood services to screen the population for vCJD."
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 3, 2011
Words:186
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