Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences

Funding for CJD surveillance & epidemiology

Dr Anna Molesworth and CCBS colleagues have been awarded two Department of Health grants for enhanced surveillance studies in Creuztfeldt-Jakob disease.

Dr Anna Molesworth (National Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease Research and Surveillance Unit (NCJDRSU), Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences) has recently been awarded funding for two research projects by the Department of Health UK Policy Research Programme focussed on the epidemiology and public health aspects of prion disease. These two enhanced surveillance studies complement the on-going national CJD surveillance and research activities undertaken by the NCJDRSU.

The first award: Identifying cases of prion disease missed by current surveillance

The first award, of £1.3M to Dr Anna Molesworth (PI) and co-investigators Dr Mark Head, Dr Colin Smith, Professor James Ironside and Professor Richard Knight, is for a three-year study to investigate cases of otherwise unrecognised vCJD and other prion diseases in the older (65+ age group) population.

There exists the possibility that some prion disease diagnoses may be missed by current surveillance mechanisms, particularly in patients aged 65 and above where dementia is common and prion disease may perhaps not be considered, for example if the symptoms are not typical of prion disease. Anna will work closely with Dr Suvankar Pal, Dr Guy Holloway, Dr Mark Head, Dr Colin Smith and other colleagues in University of Edinburgh and NHS Lothian, to investigate patients with any form of dementia presenting in a non-typical manner to local neurology and psychogeriatric services.

A second component of the study will involve in-depth testing of brain tissue, which is donated to the Edinburgh Brain Bank from all over Scotland, for evidence of prion disease. A research nurse has recently been appointed to the study.

The second award: Investigating the acquisition of CJD through blood products

The second award of £227,049 to Dr Anna Molesworth (PI) and co-investigators Dr Mark Head, Professor James Ironside and Professor Richard Knight, is for a study to undertake surveillance of abnormal prion protein in primary immunodeficiency patients exposed to UK sourced immunoglobulins.

These blood products were made using plasma from UK donors, including some known to be infected with vCJD, and were available for treatment between 1996 and 2000. By following patients treated with the products over several years and testing in-life residual tissue samples and post-mortem material, the study investigators will work with colleagues at Edinburgh University and in NHS Trusts and Boards throughout the UK to look for evidence of vCJD in patients with antibody deficiency, help determine if infection can be acquired through the use of these products and consider the wider implications to public health. The study is funded for two years in the first instance and has recently been transferred to Edinburgh from Manchester, where it had been running since 2006.

A research nurse is currently being recruited to the study.

Related Links

Dr Anna Molesworth Principal Investigator profile

National CJD Research and Surveillance Unit

Neuropathology & brain banking research at CCBS