Humiliated Lab Fights to Save Face

Science  01 Feb 2002:
Vol. 295, Issue 5556, pp. 792-793
DOI: 10.1126/science.295.5556.792

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EDINBURGH-- Last October, scientists at the Institute for Animal Health's Edinburgh branch were about to publish results suggesting that British sheep might have become infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or "mad cow disease," in the early 1990s. Finding BSE in sheep could raise the specter of an alarming new reservoir of infection for the human form of BSE, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which has already caused more than 100 deaths in the United Kingdom. But the authors pulled the paper at the last minute after an independent lab concluded that the brain extracts they had tested--which the team believed were from sheep--actually came from cattle.