Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Not Enough Prion News in Your Life?

I've got some exciting Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy news stories to relate, thanks to Annie's Annals. I enjoyed checking out Annie's BSE update, and look forward to future ones. And no, it's not possible to know too much about TSEs - really, it's not.

In early August, The Guardian newspaper from the UK printed an article about a second wave of vCJD outbreaks due to BSE. I could rewrite what they say, but instead I'll just quote the good parts:

But scientists warn that the worst may not yet be over. 'We must not forget that almost every person in the UK was exposed to the agent that causes variant CJD,' said Professor John Collinge, head of the MRC's prion unit in London. 'It went through the entire food chain, not just in burgers but in cakes containing gelatins made from meat products. Even cosmetics contained beef-derived chemicals then.'

In fact, the extent to which people were brought into contact with a deadly human pathogen was unprecedented. Hence the insistence that while some relaxation of BSE monitoring was now acceptable, there should be no reduction in efforts to understand CJD. Certainly it is far too early to assume that Britain - the country most affected by BSE and vCJD - is in the clear, say researchers. They believe a second wave of cases will probably occur, based on studies of a closely related disease, kuru, which affected tribes in New Guinea.

Researchers have found that a key gene shapes the body's defences against kuru and this exists in two forms: version-m and version-v. These gene versions produce different responses to kuru. Individuals who have two m-versions (one from each parent) are the first to succumb to kuru, while those with one or two v-genes have a delayed onset.

Crucially, scientists have now found a similar picture among vCJD patients. Every victim to date has possessed two m-versions, a point stressed by Professor Chris Higgins, chair of the government's Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC).

Hopefully current and future governments in the UK will continue to support research into the mechanisms behind BSE and vCJD - research that has proven useful not only for these two diseases, but also for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Not to be outdone, the US is still in the previous century in terms of dealing with the potential of BSE to get into the population:
  • The USDA is proposing not letting downer cows into the food chain - wow! How radical is that?
  • The Bush Administration doesn't want beef companies to test 100% of their cattle, and went to court to stop them - of course that doesn't make any sense, unless they're afraid of what might happen if all cattle farmers started testing all their cows.... (I may have mentioned this one before, but it's stupid enough to mention twice.)
  • This article is less interesting to me for the BSE connexion than it is for the image of women bidding on vials of Danish sperm...the struggle to choose between the 30 different lewd comments running through my just ended with a decision not to post a one of them. Dear reader, you will have to come up with your own naughty comments. Feel free to send them to me.
Of course, when one is perusing articles, one notices links in the sidebar that pique one's curiosity. I noticed two in the process of reading up on my favorite disease. The first was Thermy (TM) Thermometer, a character developed by the FSIS division of the USDA. He tells you what temperatures your meat should be cooked to for it to be safe. Mind you, he neglects to tell you that prions pretty much cannot be destroyed by cooking (unless you like your roasts heated to about 800 degrees Fahrenheit). Thermy also mentions that the temperatures given are in degrees Fahrenheit, which means I'll have to throw out my Kelvin meat thermometer.

The second turned out to be a huge disappointment - I thought the headline read "Dad chases nude boy from daughter's room with pie". I mean, that's a great headline, right? Was I let down when I found out it was a pipe, not a pie, that was used to threaten the nekkid laddie. The one thing I found interesting was that this had been going on for a year before Pops caught them in the act. So kiddies, let this be a lesson to you - be ever vigilant. Don't become complacent regarding parental stupidity!

And finally, one of the most wrong things to cross my path in recent weeks, a photo sent to me by one of the chair-moisteners at MDC. The photo was sent in regard to not taking candy from strangers; however, when I look at where the handle is placed on this man's gumball machine outfit, I'm thinking candy ain't what I'm going to get for my nickel.


I suppose one could use the Z-machine at Sandia National Laboratories to cook one's roast or steak to a temperature that would destroy all prions (2 billion kelvin), although I bet it would be a little tough to chew.


Blue Llama said...

Yeah!! My picture was posted!! And NO, we do not want to know what is behind door number 1!!

Anonymous said...

Haven't been on your blog for a while and was pleasantly surprised how comforting it was to read your post about Mad Cow Disease. Feels like old times again. On another note I was listening to the Obama/McCain debates tonight and was reminded of a website that one of daughter's past boyfriends founded. You might want to take a look when you're bored: chow

Anonymous said...

Well, I was going to be smug and a smart alec and offer you vegetarian recipes , but I just heard that my favorite Cadbury bars are being recalled because of Melamine contamination,never mind. Even if the recall is on China made products, how do I know the source of my bars raw ingredients?

"The company said that 11 types of chocolate bar, including Dairy Milk and Chocolate Eclairs made in China, should be returned to stores in places as far afield as Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the tiny pacific island of Nauru.

"Cadbury said the three factories from which it sourced milk products on the mainland had previously been cleared by government tests. But the statement said the company had since conducted its own tests on its chocolates. "We have received results that cast doubt on the integrity of a range of our products manufactured in China," the vaguely worded statement said."

"No other products and countries are affected and consumers in all other countries can continue to enjoy our products with confidence," the statement added.

I am not in the mood to enjoy,
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