The Alberta government has decided it will spend C $38 million on prion research to boost consumer confidence in beef and to contribute to possible solutions to the Mad Cow crisis. The research will focus on how proteins called prions become misfolded, impairing nerve function in the brain and causing Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle. It also will study the genetics, diagnosis and treatment of prion diseases. The Alberta Prion Science Initiative will demonstrate to the province's trading partners that it is serious about preventing Mad Cow Disease, said Alan Hall, managing director of the Alberta Agricultural Research Institute. The research could lead to an accurate and affordable BSE test for live cattle, genetic treatments that could build cows' immunity and possibly contribute to efforts to fight other prion-related diseases such as Alzheimer's and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Source: Prepared Foods' free enewsletter, week of March 7, 2005.

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