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From: TSS (
Subject: Re: New test can spot human 'mad cow' available to doctors next year
Date: September 24, 2004 at 7:44 am PST

In Reply to: New test can spot human 'mad cow' available to doctors next year posted by TSS on September 24, 2004 at 7:03 am:

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: New test can spot human 'mad cow' available to doctors next year.
Date: Fri, 24 Sep 2004 09:49:55 -0500
From: "Terry S. Singeltary Sr."
To: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy
References: <>


for those interested, i posted this to BSE-L on ;

Date: Sat, 29 Jun 2002 18:12:35 -0700
From: "Terry S. Singeltary Sr."
Reply-To: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy


Tachygrams show heart rate variability in BSE animals

Chris Pomfrett and colleagues at the University of Manchester, UK, may
have found the Holy Grail of prion research: a simple, non-invasive
test to diagnose patients with variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
(vCJD) before clinical symptoms show themselves. The technique, a
high-resolution electrocardiogram (ECG), can identify a unique heart
rate variability signature caused by the early stages of infection.
The test successfully predicted bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)
infection in cows before they showed signs of disease, and will now be
tested on suspected human vCJD patients in the UK. Currently, the
only definitive means to diagnose BSE and vCJD, which are among a
group of prion-based infections known as transmissible spongiform
encephalopathies (TSEs), is by postmortem examination of brain
tissue. Detecting vCJD before patients show clinical symptoms is an
urgent priority, as it could dramatically reduce the risk of
contaminating blood supplies and hospital equipment and give patients
and families time to prepare for illness. There have been 110 deaths
to date from vCJD in the UK Designing TSE diagnostic tests has been a
challenge not only because it is difficult to find antibodies that
penetrate the complex, folded structure of the abnormal prion, but
also because prions have no genetic material to identify. The ECG
test, called Fathom, aims to circumvent these problems by detecting a
condition called respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA). Fathom measures
beat-to-beat variability in heart rate with respect to breathing, and
was originally designed to assess depth of anesthesia during
surgery. Pomfrett decided to test whether RSA was affected in
BSE-infected animals, on the basis of the idea Heartbeat clue to
diagnosing vCJD that TSE infection passes from the gut along the vagus
nerve into an area of the brain stem called the solitary nucleus, an
area that controls RSA. The team measured the heart-rate variability
under laboratory conditions of 150 cows that had received either
single low dose, a single high dose or no dose of BSE. Pomfrett told
Nature Medicine that 2 animals that later died from the disease both
showed increased levels of RSA as compared with controls, and this ECG
pattern was detected 8 months before the animals died. Also, the
higher-dose animals showed a statistically higher level of RSA than
those that had received the lower dose.

"Of the 700 patients that I have seen under anesthesia, I've never
seen the effect to be so dramatic," said Pomfrett.

BSE appears to be the only brain-stem disease that increases sinus
arrhythmia -- other neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's
disease, reduce it -- making Fathom a potentially invaluable
diagnostic tool.

"One possible reason for this [may be] that once the dorsal vagal
motor nucleus, which is involved in blood pressure control, is knocked
out by TSE infection, the brain stem becomes unstable and the
autonomic nervous system compensates by inducing sinus arrhythmia to
try and maintain the blood pressure control," suggests Pomfrett.

For human trials, a 5-minute ECG recording and breathing information
will be taken from the 7 people currently suspected of having vCJD in
the UK, who will be monitored to see if the worsening of symptoms can
be predicted. The study is one of 22 being funded through a P million
($10 million) grant from the UK Public Funders of TSEs Research and
Development group. Five other projects will try to identify whether
"surrogate markers", such as levels of manganese and tau protein in
cerebrospinal fluid, are linked to TSEs. Other studies will look more
closely at infectivity, at how possible transmission risk can be
assessed and at methods to assess the effectiveness of decontamination
procedures for surgical instruments.

Simon Frantz, London

B) 2002 Nature Publishing Group


Terry S. Singeltary Sr. wrote:

> ##################### Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy
> #####################
> Friday, 24th September 2004
> New test can spot human 'mad cow'
> Rebecca Camber
> THE world's first test for the human form of mad cow disease has been
> perfected in Manchester and is set to be available to doctors next year.
> Experts at the Manchester Royal Infirmary have invented a simple,
> painless heart test which takes just ten minutes to find out whether
> patients have the fatal brain-wasting condition variant
> Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, known as vCJD.


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