September 9, 2008

Cattle urine could lead to identification of mad cow disease in live cattle


Levels of a specific protein in cattle urine may indicate whether a cow has mad cow disease, according to discoveries by scientists at the Public Health Agency of Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory.


Current processes only allow for testing post-mortem. The discovery could make it possible for the disease to be detected in live cows.


The scientists analyzed the proteins in urine samples taken from four infected and four healthy cows of the same age, over the course of the disease.


Researchers found that changed levels of a protein in cattle urine indicates the presence of BSE with 100 percent accuracy in a small sample set.


It was also determined that changes in the relative abundance of a set of proteins corresponded with the advancement of the disease.


The research was conducted working in conjunction with scientists from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's BSE Reference Laboratories, the Federal Research Institute for Animal Health in Germany, and the University of Manitoba.


Dr. David Knox, NML scientist and lead researcher on the study told Proteome Science he is hopeful their discovery would lead to a viable testing method in the industry and could lead to the development of similar tests for other Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs) in other species, including humans.


There are approximately 30 cases of classical Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease  every year in Canada not related to the eating of beef. Eating beef from mad cow disease infected cattle could lead to the disease. 

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