A Vaccine for CWD?

Will a vaccine for chronic wasting disease (CWD) be here before we know it? Frank Bastion, an animal scientist at the Louisiana State University (LSU) AgCenter, has discovered a major breakthrough in the continuing saga of CWD, mad cow disease, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, according to an LSU press release.

Bastian, a neuropathologist, has created a way to grow the bacteria that causes these fatal diseases in his lab, which enables the possibility of developing tests and vaccines in the near future.

From GoHunt.com

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Dr. Bastian's Latest Efforts Could Result in New Tests And Vaccines

A major door has been opened to researchers involved in work on Chronic Wasting disease (CWD), Mad Cow disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD).

LSU AgCenter animal scientist Frank Bastian has developed a way to grow the bacteria that causes these diseases, which makes it possible to develop tests and vaccines for them.

Chronic wasting disease in deer has been in the news over the past 30 or so years and has been found to be epidemic in several western states and Canada.

CWD is a terminal disease found in elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer, moose, red deer and other animals in the cervid family and has been seen in 21 U.S. states, two provinces in Canada and is most likely to continue to spread, Bastian said.

CJD is the human form of these two diseases and is found often undiagnosed in 15 percent of the Alzheimer’s patients.

Bastian, who is a neuropathologist, has spent his career been working on these diseases since 1976, and is excited to know that his work is finally paying off in the form of a procedure that will allow him and others to grow the bacteria and therefore begin working on tests and possible vaccines.

“This is really exciting news because this allows me to work on the bacteria, while other laboratories with access to CWD-affected deer tissues can conduct research also,” he said. “We need more laboratories involved with this approach”.

For years, Bastian has been looking for ways to grow the bacteria in the lab with no success, but his recent breakthrough has microbiologists from the University of Alabama at Birmingham interested in joining in the research.

This research will be especially important for hunters because there is currently no way for a hunter to know whether his or her kill is infected with CWD. The animals for the first ten months of infection (incubation period) appear normal then abruptly develop the clinical signs of CWD and die in a few weeks.

“I would like to give hunters a test kit that they can carry in the woods so they can test their kill for presence of the bacteria while they are in the field,” he said. “Hunters need to know whether their kill is infected before they consume the meat.”

Most people infected with CJD are between 40 and 80 years of age and 90 percent of those infected die within a year, and most within a few weeks, Bastian said.

“We should be worried about these diseases, because there is a potential infection reservoir in CWD-infected deer populations,” he said.

Before this new discovery, the bacteria would only grow for about 10 hours, then die. So Bastian changed the medium used and that made the difference. Now he is able to grow 100 percent of the specimens.

“The problem that hunters face in eating potentially infected meat is that heat does not kill this bacteria,” he said. “85 degrees centigrade does not affect it and the bacteria survive up to boiling (100 degrees centigrade). This is significant because E.coli is dead at 80.” Temperature for roasting meat is 70 degrees centigrade (140 degrees Fahrenheit).

The ability to grow the organism makes it possible to generate data that can answer many of the questions that scientists have about these diseases.

At the present there is no cure or treatment for these diseases, but this breakthrough will allow researchers to begin the process of making discoveries for possible treatments and a cure.

“Tetracycline has been used as a treatment for the infection, but it has proven to only slow the activity of the bacteria,” Bastian said.

Bastian believes he is now realistically within a year or two of being able to produce a test that hunters can use to determine whether their kill is infected with CWD.


Writer: Johnny Morgan at 225-578-8484 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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New Research Publication by Dr. Bastian

This is an article in a book called Prion Diseases (Neuromethods), edited by Pawel Liberski, Dept. of Molecular Pathology, Medical University of Lodz, Lodz, Poland. 

More information on the book is HERE.

The article is titled "Methods for Isolation of Spiroplasma sp. from Prion-Positive Eye Tissues of Sheep Affected with Terminal Scrapie".

A PDF version of the article is available in the PDF Downloads section of this website HERE.


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Dr. Bastian's Latest Research. A Breakthrough?

Dr. Bastian's latest research is making waves. Some are calling it a breakthrough.

Below is an article from MedPageToday.com. It references Dr. Bastian's paper appearing in the Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology.

Authors of a new paper appearing the Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology claim to have developed a platform for diagnosing and perhaps preventing transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease without looking for malformed prion proteins.

It's the latest in a 40-year program by Frank Bastian, MD, of Louisiana State University, aiming to show that Spiroplasma bacteria -- not prions -- are responsible for TSEs. In a 1979 paper, he reported finding the organisms in autopsied samples from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease patients, and in subsequent research he made similar findings in animal TSEs including scrapie and chronic wasting disease (CWD).

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Venison, Elk May No Longer Be Safe To Eat

Early results from an ongoing study testing human susceptibility to chronic wasting disease (CWD), a growing epidemic among deer and elk, has led Health Canada to warn “that CWD has the potential to infect humans.”

Chronic wasting disease is an incurable, inevitably fatal illness that can affect all cervids: deer, elk, moose and caribou. It is one of several prion diseases (pronounced pree-on), of which the most well-known is mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) identifies six known animal prion diseases and five that affect humans. The most common prion illness in people is Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD).


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