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From: TSS ()
Subject: FRENCH RE-TESTING 1971 CASE FOR vCJD "This is potentially Earth-shattering," Neil Cashman, a vCJD expert ...
Date: March 31, 2005 at 11:36 am PST

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: French re-testing 1971 case for vCJD
Date: Thu, 31 Mar 2005 13:39:39 -0600
From: "Terry S. Singeltary Sr."
Reply-To: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

##################### Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy #####################

French re-testing 1971 case for vCJD

By Steve Mitchell
Medical Correspondent

Washington, DC, Mar. 31 (UPI) -- French researchers are re-analyzing the
brain of a woman who died in 1971 for possible variant Creutzfeldt Jakob
disease, the human version of mad cow, United Press International has

If the woman did have vCJD it would suggest the deadly brain-wasting
illness began infecting people more than 20 years earlier than
previously thought. The first recognized case of vCJD, which humans can
contract from eating beef products contaminated with the mad-cow
pathogen, was seen in 1995 in the United Kingdom.

As first reported by UPI last week, a former scientist for the U.S.
National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., said he conducted a test
on the woman's brain in 2000 and saw patterns that indicated possible
vCJD, rather than sporadic CJD -- a similar condition that has no known

"We have been very recently informed of the statement of this ...
scientist and we have been able to identify the case," Dr. Annick
Alperovitch, leader of the French participation in The European and
Allied Countries Collaborative Study Group of CJD, wrote in an e-mail to

"Available data and material will be carefully re-analyzed, but this
will take quite (some) time," added Alperovitch, who also holds a
position with Institut national de la santé et de la recherche
médicale, or INSERM, at Hôpital La Salpêtrière in Paris. She offered
no further details.

"This is potentially Earth-shattering," Neil Cashman, a vCJD expert at
the University of Toronto, told UPI. "It's like finding a case of
autopsied AIDS back in the 1700s."

More than 160 cases of vCJD have occurred worldwide, with nearly all
appearing in the United Kingdom where there was a massive outbreak of
mad cow disease starting in the 1980s. Nine vCJD cases have been
detected in France, which also experienced an outbreak of mad cow.

Bruce Johnson, the former NIH scientist, said he used a technique called
Western blotting to analyze the woman's brain for prions -- abnormal
proteins thought to play a role in causing CJD and vCJD. The Western
blot test revealed a prion strain that looked more like it belonged to
vCJD than CJD, he said, and added he had obtained a similar pattern from
a chimpanzee that had been inoculated with the woman's brain.

Further tests that could be conducted on the French woman's brain to
confirm which type of disease she had contracted include inoculating a
sample of the brain into mice or non-human primates, Cashman said. The
mice tests can take about one year, however.

Patient-advocacy groups applauded the decision of French researchers to
reopen the case.

"I'm glad they're going to look at it," said Terry Singeltary, who lives
in Bacliff, Texas, and is involved with several groups composed of
families of patients who developed CJD or vCJD. "This is good."

Singeltary, whose mother died of a type of CJD called the Heidenhain
variant, wanted more than one lab to examine the specimens to provide
confirmation and ensure accuracy of the testing.

"I surely would like someone else to look at the brain besides the
French government," he told UPI.

Johnson said he planned to conduct further tests on the specimen when he
begins a new position with the Food and Drug Administration.

Singeltary said he would like to see a re-examination of certain U.S.
patients who were diagnosed with CJD.

"There's a lot of brains here in the United States they need to look
over," he said.

"I'd like to know what James Alford had," he added, referring to the
26-year old former Green Beret of Karnack, Texas, who has been diagnosed
with CJD. Some think Alford's young age is an indication he may instead
be suffering from vCJD.




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