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ITALIAN RESEARCHER TELLS AUDIENCE AT K-STATE THAT WORK IN ANIMAL MODELS SUGGESTS A VARIANT OF MAD COW DISEASE MAY BE TRANSMISSIBLE TO HUMANS

 

By Erinn Barcomb-Peterson

 

The classical form of mad cow disease and a variant manifest themselves differently, but research suggests that the variant may also be transmissible to humans, according a researcher speaking at Kansas State University.

Cristina Casalone presented "BSE and BASE: An Update" at the Emerging Infections: A Tribute to the One Medicine, One Health Concept on Nov. 14 at K-State. The conference drew nearly 150 researchers from Europe, Asia, North America and the Middle East to the K-State campus.

K-State is among the finalists for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, a federal center for animal health. The symposium's major sponsors included the Heartland BioAgro Consortium, which is leading an effort to bring the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility to Kansas, as well as the Kansas Bioscience Authority.

Casalone's presentation addressed studies to assess whether bovine amyloidotic spongiform encephalopathy, often called BASE, is caused by a transmissible prion strain different from the one that causes classical bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE. She said that BASE and BSE differed in several ways, including incubation time. Data suggest that BASE has at least the same animal and human health risks as classical BSE, she said.

The symposium was led by Juergen Richt, the Regents Distinguished Professor of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology at K-State and Kansas Bioscience Authority Eminent Scholar. In September, Richt and colleague Mark Hall of the National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, published research findings that showed a genetic mutation can cause bovine spongiform encephalopathy -- also called BSE or mad cow disease.