Posted tagged ‘Alberta Prion Research Institute’

CWD Impacts Hunting Revenue

January 4, 2010

Dr. Vic Adamowicz

Chronic Wasting Disease is a prion folding disease that attacks deer. It is similar to bovine spongiform encephalopathy that riddles the brains of cattle and kills them.
Dr. Vic Adamowicz is a rural economist at the University of Alberta. With funding from the Alberta Prion Research Institute, he is studying the social and economic impacts of CWD on hunting, agriculture and aboriginal people.
Resident hunting, for example, is worth $50 million a year to the Alberta economy.
According to Dr. Adamowicz, “…avoiding the spread of chronic wasting disease to the extent that it may occur if we can’t slow it down, we’re looking about a half a million dollars a year in losses to hunters in this worse case scenario. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but that half million dollars a year would occur every year if we can’t stop CWD. If we could invest in a program that in two years reduces CWD at a cost less than a $2 to $4 million, it’s worth it just from the hunting perspective.”
Dr. Adamowicz is quick to point out that there is no documented case of humans catching Chronic Wasting Disease from infected deer. His research shows that hunters are split on their perception of health risks, and that about one third of hunters feel comfortable eating deer meat before it is tested for CWD. √


Prion conference advances CWD concerns

May 12, 2009

cdn concernsPrion researchers from across Canada as well as from the United States, Asia and Europe met in Edmonton this spring to discuss their latest findings. The conference was hosted by PrioNet Canada and the Alberta Prion Research Institute.

Misfolded prions are the culprits behind bovine spongiform encephalopathy or “mad cow” disease. And while mad cow seems to be well under control, it has raised the red flag on other prion diseases like chronic wasting disease (CWD).

The big concern now for scientists is the spread of CWD through wild herds of deer, elk and possibly caribou.

According to Dr. Neil Cashman, the scientific director of PrioNet Canada, “It has been estimated that a hundred years in the future there will not be a single cervid—deer, elk or caribou—left in North America because of the unrelenting advance of CWD. My colleagues and I feel that there is a significant risk of penetration to the north, and the northern economy’s involvement of the caribou herd would be nothing short of a disaster of the first order for aboriginal populations.”

Scientists revealed at the conference that prions shed from infected deer linger in the soil for decades, making containment of this disease in the wild very difficult.

PrioNet Canada belongs to the national Networks of Centres of Excellence. There is a great deal of collaboration between PrioNet Canada and the Alberta Prion Research Institute. √   ~ Cheryl Croucher

Urine test for mad cow means early detection

May 4, 2009


At the present time, the only way to confirm whether cattle are suffering from mad cow disease is to test them after they are slaughtered.

However, the research of Dr. David Knox and his colleagues at the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg may soon lead to a simple urine test for mad cow disease.

Dr. Knox presented his findings at the recent prion conference in Edmonton which was hosted by PrioNet Canada and the Alberta Prion Research Institute.

As Dr. Knox explains, an examination of cattle urine would reveal biomarkers that indicate whether the cattle are infected, long before clinical symptoms appear.

“We found one marker, at least in our small test set, that is able to discriminate with 100 percent accuracy between control and infected samples. And that’s a protein called clusterin. However, it requires further validation. Does it work in all BSE infected cattle is one question. And the other question is, do you see increased amounts in response to other types of infection as well?”

Mad cow disease has a long incubation period. The good news is that Dr. Knox has detected the biomarker in urine as early as eight months after infection—long before clinical symptoms appear in cattle. √                                                            ~ Cheryl Croucher

 Cheryl Croucher’s interviews on prion research were funded by a grant from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research.