Institute of Veterinary
Institute of Veterinary
P r o f . D r . D r . B e r t r a m B r e n i g
Institute of Veterinary Medicine· Groner Landstraße 2 · 37073 Göttingen
Gene Marker Detects Early and Late Stage BSE
Published Study Supports BSE Eradication Strategy Using a Living Test
Göttingen, Germany - July 8, 2005 -- A peer-reviewed publication released today in
describes the results of an in-
house clinical study of a living test, the Göttingen Living Test (the GLT), for the detection of
cattle at risk for developing bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or "mad cow disease."
BSE is both a public health and an economic issue. The total cost of BSE per year is
estimated at 650 million Euros in Germany and several billion Euros worldwide.
At this time, the only available BSE tests are post mortem tests performed on brain tissue
from dead cattle. Additionally, all currently used tests detect misfolded forms of proteins
called prions, which are not found in an animal until BSE has progressed into late-stage
disease. The GLT (Chronix Biomedical, GmbH) differs from currently used tests in that it is
performed on live animals, requires only a small sample of blood, and detects specific gene
markers associated with early- as well as late-stage disease.
In today's published study, the GLT detected unique, specific gene markers in all 4 cows with
confirmed BSE (100%) and in 65% of 135 cattle from groups of associated high-risk animals
(BSE feeding cohorts). In contrast, only 0.6% of the control group of over 800 healthy
animals tested positive on the GLT. This significant association of the unique gene markers
with BSE-confirmed and at-risk cows supports the concept of using the GLT for identifying
at-risk cohorts in BSE eradication and surveillance programs throughout a herd's life. The
GLT should increase the level of public health safety by eliminating all BSE risky animals,
minimizing the downtime a slaughterhouse must incur when a BSE case is detected in its
facility, culling cows at an early age thereby minimizing the economic hardship to cattle
growers, confirming that cattle raw materials used for food and drugs are risk-free, and
allowing cattle exporters to safely send beef across international borders.
"The discovery of genetic markers in risky cows allows us to remove both early- and late-
stage BSE cattle from the farms before they reach the food chain," said Prof. Dr. Dr. Bertram
Brenig, the study's corresponding author and Director of the Institute of Veterinary Medicine.
"We modeled this eradication approach on programs used to control another animal prion
disease in sheep called scrapie," said Howard Urnovitz, PhD, study co-author and CEO of
Chronix Biomedical. "The genetic identification of living animals at risk for developing
scrapie is the approach used in the worldwide control of this sheep prion disease. Our next
step is to test large numbers of animals in countries affected by mad cow disease to show that
genetic identification of BSE can also be used to help control a prion disease in cattle."
For more detail, please visit: http://www.tieraerztliches-institut.uni-goettingen.de