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Food Quality and Safety in Europe

Guts for a goat initiative

Guts for a goat initiative image

Prion diseases are fatal transmissible neurodegenerative diseases that are currently incurable. Although the risk to humans is generally considered low, cases of Creutzfeldt-Jacob in humans are a fact, and the recent discovery of two bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) cases in goats has shown that the species barrier is not watertight. Goat BSE will therefore aim to provide sound scientific information to allow the risk assessment of human exposure to BSE via goat milk, meat and products thereof.

Early detection in goats .

The members of this consortium bring their rich RTD experience in small ruminant prion research to Goat BSE. The project aims at studying the influence of PrP (prion protein) genotypes on the susceptibility of goats to transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE), particularly BSE. Understanding of infectivity distribution of BSE, in nervous tissues, bones, lymph nodes, intestines, muscle tissues and milk, is also expected to be gained.

The determination of strain types and the geographical mapping of prions in goats, based on the collection of TSE goat cases in Europe, contributes to the assessment of current standard diagnostic methods. Optimised strain detection and differentiation are also expected results. The possibility of BSE self-maintenance in goat herds through maternal and horizontal transmission, and of new breeding programmes to improve prevention and control strategies for TSE in goat, is also to be evaluated.

To validate current BSE/scrapie discriminatory assays and to better understand transmission of goat TSEs between species, caprinised, ovinised, bovinised, and humanised transgenic mice will be used as animal models. In addition, goats with various PrP genotypes are inoculated with BSE. Natural scrapie is hugely widespread within European herds of small ruminants, and the capacity to accurately discriminate potential BSE from scrapie is paramount to a coherent and graduated response in terms of control measures and human health protection.

.for beter human health protection

The improvements in detection of BSE in goats will be crucial to understanding how the species barrier works. New data has to be compiled, in order to quantify the risk posed by milk and meat products to humans.

The findings related to BSE will be disseminated to risk assessors as well as the relevant stakeholders (including consumers), in order to inform them of the safety of goat-derived products, leading in turn, to an increased competitiveness for this growing sector.

In terms of scientific research, Goat BSE has a multiplier effect, because the multidisciplinary approach leads to developments in different fields. The project team will also provide training and employment for young researchers, which contributes to consolidating the EU scientific infrastructure and reduces the brain drain of researchers from the EU to other countries, such as the USA.

By improving goat TSE diagnosis and assessing the potential infectivity of derived products, Goat BSE contributes to the prevention of outbreaks of diseases that are currently incurable and fatal, and thus, might significantly improve human health protection in the field.

List of Partners

  • Central Institute for Animal Disease Control Lelystad, Wageningen UR (The Netherlands)
  • Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (France)
  • Institute for Animal Health (UK)
  • Instituto Nacional de Investigación, Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria (Spain)
  • University of Zaragoza (Spain)
  • Institute for Novel and Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Friedrich- Loeffler-Institut, Federal Research Institute for Animal Health (Germany)
  • Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale of Piemonte, Liguria and Valle d'Aosta (Italy)
  • Istituto Superiore di Sanità. Department of Food Safety and Veterinary Public Health (Italy)
  • Institute for Agrobiotechnology, Centre for Research and Technology (Greece)
  • Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique, Service de Pharmacologie et d'Immunologie (France)
Full title:
Proposal for improvement of goat TSE discriminative diagnosis and susceptibility based assessment of BSE infectivity in goat milk and meat
Contract n°:
Project co-ordinator:
Alex Bossers, Central Instiute for Animal Disease Control (CIDC-Lelystad), Wageningen UR,
EC Scientific Officer:
Laurence Moreau,
EU contribution:
€ 3.8M
Specific Targeted Research Project

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Last update: 06 December 2007 | Top