Friday, November 01, 2002

CHIMPANZEE WAS USED TO TEST FOR TRANSMISSION OF CJD

Patients could be tested to check infection risk
By Roger Highfield, Science Editor

...In 1977, a 69-year-old woman suffering from epilepsy had a steel electrode inserted into her brain to measure electrical activity to light. When the examination was complete, the electrode was sterilised (albeit by unconventional means) for 48 hours and used to examine first a 23-year-old woman, then a 17-year-old boy.

The young woman developed CJD 20 months after treatment and the boy succumbed after 16 months. The elderly woman also developed the disease, proving her to be the source of infection.

The speed with which the young patients succumbed reflected how the infectious agent was introduced directly into the brain. As a final test, the tip of the electrode was several years later implanted into the brain of a chimpanzee, [who] also developed CJD...