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CA$1.6 Million BSE Research Project Underway

18 June 2009

CANADA – In an effort to address the health-related risks posed by mad cow and other prion diseases, $1.6 million in funding is being provided by PrioNet Canada in partnership with the Alberta Prion Research Institute, to enable further research into the disorders.

The funding supports three large-scale projects that will accelerate discoveries about bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, commonly known as mad cow disease) and chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer and elk.

The projects are based in Alberta and Manitoba. One project is studying the impacts of CWD on vulnerable people, specifically Aboriginal communities, another is filling knowledge gaps about the transmission and spread of CWD in wild animals, and the third project investigates the fundamental nature of prion infection.

Prion diseases are fatal and infectious diseases in humans and animals associated with a “sponge-like” degeneration of brain tissue. In some cases, such as BSE, prion diseases can spread from animals to humans. The 2003 discovery of a Canadian case of BSE cost Canada billions of dollars, with rural communities and the agriculture, food and export industries hit the hardest. PrioNet Canada, a federal Networks of Centres of Excellence, was created in 2005 in response to this crisis. Since that time, PrioNet has evolved into one of the largest prion research networks in the world, working to mitigate and prevent the harmful effect of these diseases on society.

“Our research results will help provincial and federal governments create strategies to minimize the destructive impact of prion diseases on Canadians,” said Dr. Neil Cashman, Scientific Director of PrioNet Canada. “We are proactively working towards eliminating the risk of future prion disease threats, and avoid a crisis situation similar to the one Canada experienced with BSE in 2003.”

TheCattleSite News Desk


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