Chronic wasting disease (CWD) continues to plague ungulates around the world and confirmed cases are not only in North America, where the disease has been found in 26 states and three Canadian provinces. According to ScienceDaily, CWD has also been found in South Korea (since the 1990s) and recently confirmed in Norway, Finland and Sweden. Previous research has discovered that CWD seems to incubate in prions found within the soil; however, due to costs and other space restraints, it has been difficult to conduct research on this fatal disease.
According to ScienceDaily, new research out of Colorado State University (CSU) and led by Professor Glenn Telling could finally turn the tides in CWD. Telling and his team has “developed a new gene-targeted approach” that allows them to study CWD in mice.
“It's a real breakthrough in the field,” said Telling, who serves as director of the Prion Research Center at CSU. The study was published May 29 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
And the information they are uncovering is exciting—and helpful. For instance, the research team has determined “a difference in prion strain properties in deer and elk,” which could mean that there is a difference in how these prions operate and spread the disease, ScienceDaily reports. While the team is using mice, for now, they plan on creating a gene-targeted model that will study how CWD could possibly be transmitted to humans.
“Ultimately, we want to understand whether or not human beings exposed to CWD prions will contract a new form of human prion disease,” said Telling. “We still don’t understand the potential for prions to transmit disease from one species to another.”
Stay tuned to GOHUNT for further updates.