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Research thematics

Prevention

Prevention

PREVENTION aims to protect society against the prion agent. This includes modes of protection against the spread of the prion agent via contaminated food, pharmaceutical and industrial products, as well as medical equipment and industrial facilities combined in the theme Decontamination.
 
The theme Diagnosis supports the development of highly sensitive diagnostic tests which exclude infected material sources from the production chain, preventing the spread of prion diseases. The final goal is the development of reliable tests to detect prion infection at a preclinical stage in life.
 
The theme Strain typing extends the work of the diagnostic theme. It is important to identify the specific agent and the properties of the different strains, as different prion strains can infect the same species. As the number of atypical cases detected in sheep and cows increases, the implications for public health and regulatory measurements have to be considered.

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Treatment

Treatment

The goal of TREATMENT is the development and evaluation of new approaches in the treatment of prion diseases, where an increased insight into the mechanisms of pathogenesis and replication is required. Despite notable progresses achieved in the past, the public should be aware of the extent of the work still required. As rare diseases, such as prion diseases in humans, are less likely to attract funding from pharmaceutical companies, research relies on public funding. The theme Development of new Drugs supports research projects focussing on methods to interfere with prion replication and pathogenesis.
 
The theme Definition of new therapeutic targets is the second approach to develop efficient treatments for prion diseases, focussing more on the fundamental mechanisms of prion replication and pathogenesis, with the potential to identify new candidate treatments for prion diseases.

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Control & Risk

Control and risk

CONTROL and RISK contribute to the identification of possible new risks arising in the field of prion diseases. An efficient surveillance of the different prion diseases was implemented.
 
Human surveillance is based on the successful work of the EuroCJD research project. It coordinates the CJD surveillance not only with all European CJD surveillance unit but also with non-European (Japan, Australia, North America…).
 
Within the theme Animal Control each of the four TSEs-BSE in cattle, scrapie in sheep, TSEs in goats and CWD in cervids – have been covered by the 3 different task groups.
 
The NeuroPrion tissue bank facilitates access to human and animal tissues and samples. This is a prime example of earlier fragmentation in the field, when many countries or single institutions maintained separate archives. The additional sampling of different human and animal tissues under defined conditions is fostered by NeuroPrion, and in addition, a Virtual Animal Tissue Bank with access to the centralised information of the different samples at the individual institutions has been developed, based on the pre-existing database on small ruminants (SR-TSEnet, FP5). It is accessible to NeuroPrion members on eDoc intranet. The Virtual Human Tissue Bank cooperates with BrainNet Europe (LSHM-CT-2004-503039) to overcome ethical and technical problems which arise due to confidentiality issues surrounding patient information. The theme Risk centralises the available information on risk assessment and communication.

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