MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Byron Caughey, Ph.D.
Chief, TSE/prion Biochemistry Section
Laboratory of Persistent Viral Diseases
NIH/NIAID Rocky Mountain Laboratories .
Hamilton, MT 59840 USA
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Would you briefly explain the significance of prion-induced diseases and why they have been difficult to diagnosis?
Response: Although prion diseases such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) are rarer than many other neurodegenerative diseases in humans, they are rapidly fatal, untreatable and transmissible. Therefore it is important to be able to diagnose prion diseases as early as possible, not only to accurately inform patients, families and caregivers, but also to reduce risks of transmission and improve prospects for developing therapeutics.
Toward these goals, we have shown that our RT-QuIC prion seed amplification assays are highly accurate for diagnosing sporadic CJD using patients’ spinal fluid and/or nasal brushings in the clinical phase of disease. However, these particular specimens may not always be available, and it remains unclear how early they become RT-QuIC-positive in infected individuals in the months or years prior to the onset of overt clinical signs. We also showed recently that skin samples obtained post-mortem from sCJD patients are RT-QuIC positive.
In the current study, we determined how early prion seeds appear in the rodents infected with prions in order to gain clues as to whether analyses of skin biopsies might provide a means of early preclinical detection of prion infections in humans.