The livestock industry will soon have a new and faster way to diagnose transmissible spongiform encephalopathies if researchers at Ohio State University have anything to say about it. Food animal scientist Srinand Sreevatsan and colleagues are developing a test that can be used on live animals — all current tests are only possible after death — to detect prions. These prions are abnormally shaped proteins believed to be the cause for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy in cattle, chronic wasting disease in deer and elk, scrapies in sheep and goats, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans. In time, researchers may be able to determine prion presence through clinical samples of blood, serum or lymphoid tissues before the onset of symptoms.

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