Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) are neurodegenerative disorders affecting humans and animals. At present, it is not possible to recognize individuals incubating the disease before the clinical symptoms appear. We investigated the effectiveness of the "Protein Misfolding Cyclic Amplification" (PMCA) technology to detect the protease-resistance disease-associated prion protein (PrP(res)) in pre-symptomatic stages. PMCA allowed detection of PrP(res) in the brain of pre-symptomatic hamsters, enabling a clear identification of infected animals as early as two weeks after inoculation. Furthermore, PMCA was able to amplify minute quantities of PrP(res) from a variety of experimental and natural TSEs. Finally, PMCA allowed the demonstration of PrP(res) in an experimentally infected cow 32 month post-inoculation, that did not show clinical signs and was negative by standard Western blot analysis. Our findings indicate that PMCA may be useful for the development of an ultra-sensitive diagnostic test to minimize the risk of further propagation of TSEs.
- Protein Folding