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Commission launches 13 research projects on transmissible spongiform encephalopathies

The public perception of "mad cow disease" and genetic factors involved in the development of its human equivalent, Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease (CJD), are among 13 research projects recently given the go-ahead by the EU. The projects aim to investigate transmissible spongiform e...
The public perception of "mad cow disease" and genetic factors involved in the development of its human equivalent, Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease (CJD), are among 13 research projects recently given the go-ahead by the EU. The projects aim to investigate transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), will receive more than ECU 11 million from the European Union. This represents a significant addition to the existing research programmes, which focus on TSE.

The projects were picked from 24 proposals and will be the last TSE research projects to be funded under the Fourth Framework Programme.

The 13 new projects, adopted in December 1998, will be funded under the Life Sciences research programme. This follows the allocation of ECU 35m to TSE research in 1997 as a response to widespread concern about "mad cow disease" (bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)).

The projects will include an initiative to create a network between European laboratories to enable standardisation of surveillance methods and validation of diagnostic methods for ruminant TSE. There will also be an initiative to develop pre-clinical tests to differentiate between scrapie and BSE infection in sheep, and to study the growth of BSE in sheep with different genotypes. Another project is aimed at compiling a database of different abattoir practices in Europe. This will be used to investigate the contamination of meat and exposure of abattoir workers to tissue from the central nervous system of slaughtered animals. The results will be compiled to prepare a set of recommendations of best practices for the industry.

In the Fifth Framework Programme (1998-2002), life science research will be addressed by the thematic programme, "Quality of life and management of living resources".

Source: European Commission, Directorate General XII

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