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New Filtration Device Removes Prions from Blood

Animal study suggests it could be used to prevent transmission of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

FRIDAY, Dec. 22 (HealthDay News) -- A new filtration device can effectively remove disease-causing prions from scrapie-infected animal blood and could be used to remove prions from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD)-infected human blood, according to a study published in the Dec. 23/30 issue of The Lancet.

Robert Rohwer, Ph.D., of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, and colleagues identified an affinity resin -- L13 -- that selectively binds the prion protein.

The researchers injected white blood cell-depleted, scrapie-infected blood into 99 hamsters, 15 of which became infected. After filtering infected blood through a device containing L13, they injected another 96 hamsters, none of which became infected. They also found that L13 could selectively bind to prion protein from vCJD.

"This builds on previous work by this group and others showing that prion reduction via filtration could reduce the risk of transmitting vCJD by blood transfusion," states the author of an accompanying comment. "The U.K. and Irish Blood Services have produced quality, efficacy, and operational specifications for such filters and are considering an assessment program that will include independent investigation of efficacy and clinical safety studies."

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