Diagnostic Test Scores High Marks in Study

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Science  22 Jan 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5401, pp. 469-471
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5401.469b

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Although only 34 cases of the new human brain disorder linked to eating beef from cattle infected with "mad cow disease"--called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD)--have been confirmed in Britain since 1996, no one knows if these are isolated occurrences or the first signs of a major epidemic. Getting a handle on this crucial question has been made more difficult by the lack of a diagnostic test for vCJD. Now, help may be at hand: In the 16 January issue of The Lancet, a team of U.K. researchers reports that sensitive immunological and molecular tests can detect in tonsil biopsies an abnormal protein linked to vCJD.