Posted tagged ‘Neil Cashman’

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