Hokkaido lab may have succeeded in 1st artificial BSE infection+
(Japan Economic Newswire Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)
SAPPORO, Jan. 4_(Kyodo) _ Japan may have succeeded for the first time in artificially triggering the onset of mad cow disease as several cows inoculated with abnormal prions have shown symptoms of the disease at the Hokkaido Animal Research Center, its official said Wednesday.
The center plans to dissect three of the cows in February to see if they were indeed infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy. If confirmed, it will be the first successful case of human-induced BSE in Japan, which researchers hope will contribute to further studies of the disease-causing abnormal proteins and cure methods.According to the prefectural research center, the experiment began in February 2004 when 14 female Holstein calves, kept in an isolated facility, were inoculated in the brain with 0.1 gram of abnormal prions extracted from BSE infected cows.Researchers kept a close watch on the calves, including their behavior and blood samples. Around the end of last year, several calves began to show early symptoms of the brain-wasting disease such as wobbling and overreacting to sounds, the official said.”Until now, we have only had (samples from) dead infected cows,” the official said. “If it becomes possible to analyze blood and other samples from infected cows that are alive, then we can understand what kinds of changes occur before the infection develops and enable earlier detection of the disease.”Researchers in Britain have already succeeded in similar experiments. Elsewhere in Japan, the National Institute of Animal Health in Ibaraki Prefecture is conducting a similar test by injecting abnormal prions into the stomachs of cows.