"At Chiron we have been working for some time on a vCJD program and have made significant breakthroughs. The technology developed by Prion Solutions complements our program and will advance the development of a highly sensitive and specific test to screen blood donations for vCJD, which is believed to be transmissible through blood," said Jack Goldstein, president, Chiron Blood Testing. "Because of the threat of vCJD, specific donor deferral standards have been introduced throughout the world, putting additional pressure on an already fragile blood supply. A sensitive and specific assay for vCJD would be an important breakthrough in blood safety."
"We're pleased that Chiron will be working to develop this technology further," said Anthony Williamson, CFO and chief scientific officer of Prion Solutions. "A sensitive assay for vCJD would implement innovative science to protect people and would fill an important medical need."
Prion Solutions holds exclusive rights from Scripps Research Institute to an antibody that recognizes the disease-specific form of the cellular prion protein. The technology from Prion Solutions complements Chiron's existing research on prions, which has been successful in identifying several classes of reagents that bind specifically to the disease-related form of prions and are useful for development of a blood-screening assay.
Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is a slow, progressive disease of the central nervous system, characterized by dementia and involuntary muscle contractions, that is believed to be caused by an infectious prion, a protein particle. More than 150 cases of vCJD have been recorded in Europe and have been linked to eating or contact with cattle infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad-cow disease. Two cases have been reported to date in the United Kingdom, where blood from a donor who was later identified to have vCJD was transfused to a patient who has subsequently developed vCJD. The cases suggest the possibility that vCJD may be transmitted through transfusion.