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Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies

Development of a preclinical blood test for prion diseases

EC contribution
: € 2 450 000
: 36 months
Starting date
: June 1, 2006
: IP
: blood, MALDI, preclinical, prions, proteomics, PrPSc, SELDI, surrogate marker, TSE
Project Number
: LSHB-CT-2006-019090


There are currently no tests for early prion diagnosis. Such tests would help:

  1. to prevent transmission through blood, biologicals, the food chain, and medical procedures, and
  2. identify candidates for emerging anti-prion therapies and prophylactic procedures, especially among silent carriers of pathogenic PrP mutations.

Current tests are based on the identification of PrPSc or of characteristic pathologies in brain samples collected post mortem. Recent advances have shown that minute amounts of PrPSc exist in body fluids such as blood. Although these PrPSc levels are too low to be detected reliably by existing methods, they point to the feasibility of using these fluids with improved methods.

Backed by a powerful consortium of partners with proven clinical, experimental and industrial achievements, the AntePrion partners want to develop methods for the preclinical detection of prions in body fluids, based on (1) PrPSc and (2) novel surrogate (non-PrP) markers of prion diseases.

PrPSc detection in body fluids will be achieved by systematically optimising every step in the process:

  1. Fractionation, to identify fractions enriched in PrPSc;
  2. PrPSc concentration;
  3. PrPSc amplification; and
  4. PrPSc detection.

Surrogate markers and molecular 'signatures' of prion diseases will be identified using novel sensitive proteomic and genomic approaches, including SELDI, MALDI and DNA microarrays. Proprietary software will be developed to analyse these emerging signatures.

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