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MRC Prion Unit
From fundamental research to prevention and cure
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Press and Media

Press releases and Media coverage articles are currently available from the beginning of 2005 onwards.


Press releases

2013
Scientists develop refined diagnostic tool for inherited dementias
  • Scientists and doctors at the MRC Prion Unit and the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Queen Square Dementia Biomedical Research Unit (BRU) have developed an integrated diagnostic tool (the 'MRC Dementia Gene Panel') which brings together for the first time all 17 genes known to play a substantial role in causing inherited forms of dementia.

    The results are published in Neurobiology of Aging . Read more.

 

2011

Drugs being developed to tackle CJD could also help prevent Alzheimer’s
  • Scientists funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) have identified two antibodies which could help block the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain.

    The results are published in Nature Communications. Read more.

World’s first blood test for vCJD developed in MRC lab
  • The world’s first accurate blood test for variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) has been developed by Medical Research Council (MRC) scientists. The prototype, which is 100,000 times more sensitive than any previous attempt, could transform the diagnosis and screening of the brain disease.

    The results are published in Lancet. Read more.

2009
PRION1 trial reports quinacrine does not increase survival in patients with prion disease
  • The drug quinacrine does not increase survival in patients with prion diseases including variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD).

    The finding comes from evidence collected during the PRION-1 trial, the first clinical trial of a potential treatment for human prion diseases in the UK. The results are published in Lancet Neurology. Read more.

Sticky antibodies block prion disease
  • Antibodies that stick to a brain prion protein called PrP could be the key to treating prion diseases like variant CJD and preventing people accidentally exposed to prions from going on to develop the fatal brain disease.

    Using a precise visualisation technique, called X-ray crystallography, scientists have identified an antibody that has the best ability to bind to PrP in the brain. Read more.

Faster, stronger test to detect prions on metal surfaces developed
  • An extremely sensitive test to detect the presence of prions on surgical instruments, including those that cause vCJD, has been developed by scientists in the Medical Research Council Prion Unit at University College London.

    The technique allows for a fast, accurate test for the presence of prions bound to a metal surface. Read more.

2008
Search for genetic influence on vCJD continues
  • Scientists at the Medical Research Council Prion Unit, University College London, searching for variations in DNA that might influence a person’s risk of developing variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD),following exposure to BSE prions, have published the findings of their genome-wide association study in Lancet Neurology.

    Past research has shown that genes influence susceptibility to prion diseases. Read more.

Modified virus used to treat prion disease in mice
  • A treatment that prolongs survival in mice with prion disease has been found in research led by Dr Giovanna Mallucci at the Medical Research Council Prion Unit at UCL (University College London).

    Dr Mallucci and colleagues used a harmless form of virus carrying a specific strand of RNA to block production of prion protein in brain cells in mice with prion disease. Read more.

Kuru prions most similar to sporadic CJD prions
  • Researchers at the MRC Prion Unit have been able to show that kuru probably originated from an individual with sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD).

    In the early 20th century the prion disease kuru gripped the Fore people of the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea killing many women and children. Read more.

2007
UCL researchers investigate genetic link to unravel ‘dementia genes’
  • Scientists from the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the UCL Institute of Neurology have received £30,000 from the Alzheimer’s Research Trust to investigate the genetic links behind a devastating brain disease.

    Fronto-temporal dementia, which affects over 11,000 people in the UK, is the second most common cause of dementia in people under 65 after Alzheimer’s. Read more.

Prions block cell recycling system to cause disease
  • The rogue prion proteins responsible for diseases like BSE and vCJD can destroy brain cells by blocking the protein recycling process that helps keep cells healthy.

    An international group of scientists, led by Dr Sarah Tabrizi of University College London’s Institute of Neurology, has now discovered which part of the structure of the protein it is that creates this effect. Read more.

2006
vCJD case highlights blood transfusion risk
  • Scientists have confirmed that Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) can be passed from person to person through blood transfusion.

    A case study published in The Lancet reports on the third person known to have contracted vCJD from blood transfusion. Read more.

2005
Major academic/industry collaboration to find a drug to treat CJD
  • Today, an unprecedented collaboration between the UK’s leading academic research group working on CJD – the Medical Research Council’s Prion Unit based at the Institute of Neurology, University College London – and the UK’s largest pharmaceutical company – GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) - is announced.Read more.

 


Media coverage

2010

Deadly brain disease
  • The Huntington’s Disease Association has been campaigning on 30th June 2010 to coincide with the launch of a new All Party Parliamentary Group on Huntington’s Disease of which Dr Sarah Tabrizi has been heavily involved.

    The number of people suffering from the devastating brain condition Huntingdon's could be double the estimated figure.. Read more.

2009
Coroners 'reject plea over vCJD'
  • Coroners are refusing to test for an infection which causes vCJD - despite government pleas that it could help protect the public, the BBC has learnt.

    Scientists said the checks during post-mortem examinations could help find out how many people in the population have the infection without knowing it.. Read more.

Warning over second wave of CJD cases
  • Doctors and scientists have warned that a second wave of CJD cases could sweep Britain over the next two to three decades. The initial outbreak of the fatal brain illness peaked several years ago but could break out again, they argue.

    The prediction comes as officials consider ending some of the research projects that were set up to improve understanding of CJD - Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease - and the closely related illness in cows, BSE. Read more.

Test spots contaminated equipment
  • Scientists have perfected a highly sensitive test to detect vCJD-causing proteins on surgical instruments.

    The test, which picks up the presence of prions on metal surfaces quickly and accurately, could help show whether decontamination processes are working. Read more.

2008
Warning over second wave of CJD cases
  • Scientists say that threat of brain illness returning will persist for decades 

    Doctors and scientists have warned that a second wave of CJD cases could sweep Britain over the next two to three decades. The initial outbreak of the fatal brain illness peaked several years ago but could break out again, they argue. Read more.


2005
New clues for the understanding of dementia
  • Researchers at the MRC Prion Unit and the Department of Neurodegenerative Disease at the Institute of Neurology, University College London, have identified a gene that, when mutated, causes an early onset dementia.

    The discovery of the gene provides clues for the understanding of dementia and other forms of neurodegenerative disease. Read more.


MRC Prion News