May 28, 2004
May 28, 2004 -- Olivier Andreoletti and others from the National Veterinary School in Toulouse, France, reported in the most recent medical journal Nature Medicine that he and his colleagues have isolated very small quantities of prion from the muscle of sheep infected with scrapie under laboratory conditions.
The authors emphasized that the finding of the prion in muscle did not mean that lamb or mutton posed a danger to humans, and they cautioned against drawing broader conclusions about other transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE?s) and other species based upon this research.
Dr. Paul Brown, a prion expert at the National Institutes of Health, added that after nearly 40 years of trying, no researcher has ever infected a healthy animal with a prion disease by injecting it with muscle tissue; therefore questioning whether the small quantities found in this study represents an infectious dose. He and others point to the dramatic improvement in the sensitivity of new diagnostic technologies that make this type of research exciting.
The American Sheep Industry Association, along with other commodity and allied industry groups, continue to monitor all research regarding TSE?s.
Staff contact: Paul Rodgers, (304) 647-9981