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British scientists develop test for human mad cow disease

British scientists have developed a prototype blood test for a human form of mad cow disease known as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD).

In a study led by Professor John Collinge of University College London, which involved an analysis of 190 blood samples, the new test was able to identify tiny amounts of vCJD causing agents known as prions in human blood.

The test was also able to identify the disease when the blood was spiked with a dilution of vCJD to within one part per 10 billion, which indicates that the new test is 100,000 times more sensitive than currently used tests.

According to researchers, in future, this test can allow doctors to screen whole populations for vCJD infection, identify the silent carriers of the disease and prevent transmission of the disease.

Researchers are planning to conduct a large-scale clinical trial to further develop this test.