A company specializing in diagnostics and therapies for brain wasting diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) presented its new blood screening test for vCJD in September. The presentation was made at the Sixth World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH) Global Forum on the Safety and Supply of Treatment Products for Bleeding Disorders in Montreal, Canada, on September 25, 2009.
vCJD is the human form of “mad cow disease” or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), which causes a degenerative and ultimately fatal brain disorder. The majority of vCJD cases in humans occurred during an outbreak in the United Kingdom (UK) in the 1990s. Transmission to humans occurred in the 1990s, when people ate beef contaminated with BSE. There have been 167 confirmed cases of vCJD in the UK; all have died. There is currently no diagnostic test for vCJD and diagnosis can only officially be verified via a post-mortem brain matter analysis.
Dr. George Adams, President and Chief Executive Officer of Amorfix Life Sciences Ltd., outlined the value and necessity for the test, known as the EP-vCJD™ screening assay. The assay screens for the presence of vCJD prions (cellular proteins in the brain) in human blood. Abnormal and misfolded prions are thought to be the primary contributor to vCJD and other brain wasting diseases.
“Early this year, the UK Health Protection Agency confirmed the first case of vCJD in one of the thousands of hemophiliac patients who received potentially contaminated plasma fractions. While the patient ultimately died of causes other than vCJD, this news has served to amplify the calls from hemophilia patients in the UK and around the world for their respective governments to protect the blood supply through routine testing of blood donations,” said Adams. “Universal testing would provide peace of mind for hemophiliacs and their families and identify anyone already incubating vCJD so counseling could be provided to potential victims.”
Adams also reported on the test’s efficacy. “As previously reported, a total of 30,000 blood donations have been collected and tested with our EP-vCJD™ screening assay at two blood transfusion centers in France,” he said. “In both centers using two lots of test kits, the EP-vCJD™ screening test performed better than the 99.85% specificity required by the UK Blood Transfusion Service and therefore meets the required performance standard for routine testing.”
Continued study of EP-vCJD™ will soon expand to three blood centers in France. There are also plans to test the screening assay in blood centers in other countries.
Source: Amorfix news release dated September 24, 2009