Scrapie and TSEs
Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSE) or prion diseases are fatal infectious neurodegenerative disorders affecting humans and animals. TSEs include, amongst others, scrapie in sheep and goats, sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in humans and chronic wasting disease (CWD) of deer.
TSEs have long incubation periods and lead to neurological problems and ultimately death in infected animals. The infectious agent causes countless tiny holes and accumulation of abnormal prion protein to appear in the brain. Infected animals have impaired brain function and as a result, numerous behavioural and physiological changes manifest that worsen over time. Unfortunately no treatment or control strategy is currently available.
Eradication of TSE infections of livestock is a long standing goal for the UK policy on animal health and consumer protection. Despite intensive research in the past years the study of TSEs still poses one of the greatest remaining challenges of research into infectious diseases as the nature of the infecting agent has still not been defined.
Moredun has been working on scrapie since the 1930’s. This degenerative disease affects the nervous systems of sheep and goats but unlike BSE it does not appear to be transmissible to humans.
Current research at Moredun is focused on testing the susceptibility of species and genotypes considered to be resistant to TSE which will give a major insight into the pathogenesis of TSEs and the nature of the infectious agent. This research will further our understanding of scrapie and the potential control of the disease, whilst also contributing to our understanding of similar diseases in man, domestic and free living animals.
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