A new blood filter device could in future prevent people being infected with the human form of mad cow disease through transfusions. The technique can effectively remove the rogue prion proteins responsible for transmitting brain diseases such as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD). Currently, white blood cells are removed from donated blood to minimise the risk of transmitting vCJD. Donors are also carefully screened, and no-one who has received blood is subsequently allowed to give it. The new filter system was developed by Pathogen Removal and Diagnostic Technologies Inc (PRDT), a joint venture between Canadian-based biotech company ProMetic Life Sciences Inc, and the American National Red Cross. A report in the Lancet medical journal describes how scientists screened millions of molecules to find one that selectively binds to the prion protein. The molecule, called L13, was incorporated into a device that filters blood and extracts prions.
Source: news.scotsman.comAdded: 16 March 2007