May 2, 2008
May 2, 2008 -- Amorfix Life Sciences Ltd. announced this week the detection of endogenous prions in the blood plasma of asymptomatic scrapie-infected sheep. The company had previously reported detecting symptomatic sheep which was a requirement for testing of human variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in the United Kingdom (UK).
"Identification of scrapie sheep prior to symptoms is critical for an effective program to eradicate the disease," said George Adams, Ph.D., chief executive officer for Amorfix. "For the first time, we have been able to sort scrapie infected and unaffected sheep using a simple blood test."
Scrapie-infected lambs as early as 17 months of age were detected by the Amorfix EP-TSE(TM) test. Sheep normally show symptoms of scrapie at three years to five years of age. Detection of infected sheep two to three years prior to symptoms will allow effective removal of infected animals before they have the ability to infect other sheep in the flock.
Amorfix is in discussions with potential partners to complete product development, regulatory approvals and commercialize the EP-TSE(TM) test. The company continues to validate its test through the UK process and participate in the development of a common technical specification for a CE Mark (CE Mark is a mandatory requirement for products intended for sale or placed into service in Europe).
"A blood test that performs well and is reasonably priced would be a very useful tool in eradicating scrapie," stated Paul Rodgers, deputy director of policy for the American Sheep Industry Association. "We hope that Amorfix and others who are working toward prion detection in blood are successful and will be able to eventually gain approval for its regulatory use through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service."