Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DETECTION OF TRANSMISSIBLE SPONGIFORM ENCEPHALOPATHY AGENTS IN LIVESTOCK, WILDLIFE, AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS, AND THE ENVIRONMENT Project Number: 5325-32000-008-00
Project Type: Appropriated

Start Date: Apr 07, 2008
End Date: Feb 28, 2013

Objective:
We will develop highly sensitive diagnostic tests to detect transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) in livestock and wildlife animal species prior to the onset of clinical disease. We will also develop tests to confirm the presence or absence of TSE disease agents in ingredients of animal origin and decontaminated environments.

Approach:
The threat of BSE continues to affect export economics for US meat. Meanwhile scrapie continues to influence sheep profits and herd biosecurity, and CWD is spreading throughout North America. Thus U.S. animal industry stakeholders have identified detection of the TSE infectious agent (prions) as a priority biosecurity research issue essential for prevention of TSE diseases. We will build on our previous successes using mass spectrometry (MS) for high-sensitivity and specificity in detection of PrPsc as a marker for TSE infectivity in blood using a hamster scrapie model. We will also develop a novel PrP-null mouse strain and related myeloma cell culture system for production of monoclonal antibodies (MAb), which may be specific for PrPsc. We will then choose MS or MAb and validate our novel diagnostic for preclinical diagnosis of scrapie in sheep blood. Whereas MS and MAb methods rely on dissolved samples, contamination of agricultural products and environmental surfaces is associated with solid samples. So we will produce a cell culture based assay for TSE infectivity that is surface-adsorbed. After using the relatively convenient hamster model for early development, we will validate this technology for detection of scrapie in sheep brain on meat-and-bone meal and stainless steel. All work with infectious material will take place within our APHIS-approved BL2 biocontainment facilities labs at the Western Regional Research Center (WRRC), while mass spectrometry will be performed on non-infectious material under BL1 containment. Replacing 5325-32000-007-00D (3/19/2008).

Last Modified: 8/22/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page