New techniques, methods and (immuno)reagents for the diagnosis of BSE and the detection of the BSE agent (PrPC) are being produced at VLA, other laboratories worldwide and by commercial companies. It is essential that there is a facility for the assessment of these methodologies and reagents, on a selective basis, so that claims can be examined comparison made with Gold Standard protocols in order to provide advice and consultancy to aid the formulation of MAFF policy on BSE diagnostics.
As the major centre for BSE diagnosis, VLA must also maintain its ability to incorporate the latest technology (when appropriate) and expertise in the diagnostic process to ensure that MAFF is provided with up to date advice and data on BSE. At the same time, there is a major gap in our appreciation of the performance of the current detection methods for bovine PrP, particularly with regard to the relative sensitivities and comparative quantification aspects of the different techniques. It is proposed that Western blot, SAF electron microscopy, PrP immunohistochemistry, ELISA / dot blot and infectivity be compared directly for relative performance on CNS material, against which new techniques can be then be related.
THE TIMESCALES AND MILESTONES IN THIS PROPOSAL HAVE BEEN REVISED AS OF 18.02.00