An animal study suggests that a new rapid test for disease-causing prions could help detect cases of prion-related disorders, such as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease) in cows. The test was developed by scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Early detection of infectious prions, which may be present in an infected individual or animal for decades before symptoms appear, might help scientists develop earlier interventions and help control the spread of disease. Current methods for detecting disease-associated prions rely on assays conducted in animals that may take weeks or months. However, the new test, called real-time quaking induced conversion assay, can detect prions in nasal secretions in 2 days or less with accuracy similar to that of existing tests (Wilham JM et al. PloS Pathog. 2010; 6:e1001217).
Kuehn BM. Rapid Prion Test. JAMA. 2011;305(4):348. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1964