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A new study offers the most compelling evidence to date that infectious proteins that cause bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or "mad cow" disease, also cause disease in humans.
The December 20, 1999, issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences described laboratory experiments with transgenic mice that harbored genes for bovine prion protein, the culprit in BSE. When inoculated with prions from diseased cows or from humans with new-variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (nvCJD), the mice developed the same neurologic symptoms during the same period of time—about 250 days. But when researchers inoculated transgenic mice with prions from sheep with scrapie, a related disease, a different pattern of illness occurred.
Voelker R. Prion Diseases Linked. JAMA. 2000;283(4):470. doi:10.1001/jama.283.4.470