Researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center have developed a vaccine to fight chronic wasting disease (CWD), a fatal brain disorder among deer which is caused by unusual infectious proteins known as prions. This vaccine will help protect U.S. livestock from contracting the disease, and prevent similar brain infections in humans caused by prions, such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, kuru, familial insomnia, and variably protease-sensitive prionopathy.
Researchers used Salmonella bacteria to prepare the vaccine. They inserted a prion-like protein into the genome of an attenuated, or no longer dangerous, Salmonella bacterium. This led the Salmonella to induce an immune response in the gut, producing anti-prion antibodies.
Senior study investigator and neurologist Thomas Wisniewski said, "If further vaccine experiments prove successful, a relatively small number of animals (as few as 10 percent) could be inoculated to induce herd immunity, in which disease transmission is essentially stopped in a much larger group."
After successful deer and mice studies the scientists are now looking forward to implement the method and concept for not only preventing, but potentially treating many prion diseases in humans.
The study is published in 'Vaccine'.