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Prion-Filtering Technique Aimed at Protecting Blood Supply

Prion-Filtering Technique Aimed at Protecting Blood Supply

BALTIMORE, Dec. 22 -- An investigational approach to sifting infectious prions from donated blood could help quell fears, focused in Britain, about the possible spread by transfusion of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, researchers here reported.

In a proof-of-concept study, no animals exposed to blood treated to remove scrapie-causing prions developed the disease, whereas 15 of 99 animals exposed to untreated blood developed scrapie, reported Robert G. Rohwer, Ph.D., of the University of Maryland, and colleagues, in the Dec. 23 issue of The Lancet.

Scrapie is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy similar to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD),

The blood treatment method involves removing white cells from the blood through leukoreduction, and then removing prions from the red-cell concentrate using a technique commonly employed for purifying proteins for drug research.

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