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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Prion Research at the Western Regional Research Center

Author
item Carter, John

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: April 7, 2005
Publication Date: April 7, 2005
Citation: Carter, J.M., Onisko, B., Silva, C., Stanker, L. Requena, J.R., 2005. Prion research at the Western Regional Research Center [abstract]. International Symposium on the New Prion Biology: Basic Science, Diagnosis and Therapy, April 7-9, 2005, Venice, Italy. Poster P17.

Interpretive Summary: Research in the Foodborne Contaminants Research Unit of the USDA's Agricultural Research Service includes work on transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)- "Mad Cow Disease." We currently have three general areas of research. One is an effort to develop new and highly sensitive tests for TSE diseases, and we are progressing with tests based on antibodies and tests based on mass spectroscopy. The goal is a new test that can detect TSE in a living animal long before it shows signs of disease. Another area involves development of tests for cow and sheep materials in animal feeds. Experts believe that the BSE epidemic in Europe was caused by including meat scraps in animal feed. Our new tests will help the US enforce its 'feed ban' to prevent the BSE epidemic from reaching our country. Finally, we are coming up with an environmentally friendly way to dispose of infected materials. We are looking at composting and other natural processes that could also be used on contaminated equipment such as barns.

Technical Abstract: Ongoing TSE research at WRRC includes sample prep, assays, and decontamination. Sample preparation is important to increase the sensitivity of assays, but methods must vary according to the matrix bearing the sample. Methods based on in vitro conversion of the Prnp gene product from PrPc to PrPSc are effective for brain tissue, and may be generalized for other materials. Our work on assays includes new immunoassays for PrP. This project includes development of PrP-ablated mouse strains for use in generation of new MAb. The assay work also includes a GC-MS based test for cholesterol in feed, as a marker of animal tissue additives. Our work with mass spectroscopy not only provides ultra-sensitive detection, but also new information about PrP quaternary structure. Finally, we are developing means for gentle decontamination of equipment.

Last Modified: 10/23/2014
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