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Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Screening Test Feasible

Blood-based assay can detect variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease prions

THURSDAY, Feb. 3 (HealthDay News) -- A new blood-based assay can detect minute amounts of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) prions in human blood, according to a study published online Feb. 3 in The Lancet.

Julie Ann Edgeworth, Ph.D., of the UCL Institute of Neurology in London, and colleagues developed a solid-state binding matrix to capture and concentrate disease-associated prion proteins. They coupled this method to direct immunodetection of surface-bound material. The investigators evaluated a masked panel of 190 whole blood samples from 21 patients with vCJD, 27 with sporadic CJD, 42 with other neurological diseases, and 100 normal controls.

Compared to the current best standard tests for vCJD, the investigators found the blood-based assay to be more sensitive, detecting levels of CJD-causing prions at a dilution of 100,000-fold greater. The assay was associated with a sensitivity of 71.4 percent (15 out of 21 cases) and a specificity of 100 percent. As to the six vCJD cases not picked up by the blood-based assay, the investigators suggest the reason could have been extremely low prion levels or potentially not everyone infected with vCJD has prions in their blood.

"Our findings demonstrate the ability to detect prion infection in blood and show that a donor blood screening test is technically feasible. The use of this test in differential diagnosis of suspected vCJD will be further investigated in large case series," the authors write.

D-Gen markets the antibody used in this study, and two authors disclosed financial relationships with the company.

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