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German Researchers Make Early Progress Towards vCJD Vaccine

Researchers at the Paul Ehrlich Institute in Germany have successfully introduced antibodies to a prion protein (Prp) in mice in the hopes of eventually developing a variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) vaccine.

Prp, in an abnormal form, is the protein associated with mad cow disease in animals and vCJD in humans, both prion-related diseases. Immunizing against an abnormal form of this protein would theoretically prevent the development of these diseases in animals and humans who might eat bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)-contaminated meat.

Although the researchers are encouraged by the initial progress, continued tests are being conducted to prove that the technique is effective and safe.

Source: New Scientist, March 26, 2005