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$8M awarded to prion research projects


Vancouver, BC – PrioNet Canada has announced $8 million in funding for projects related to solving the food and health-related threats posed by prion diseases. The funding will support 19 projects across the country carried out by 60 Canadian researchers. The projects will accelerate discoveries surrounding prion diseases such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, commonly known as mad cow), Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in humans, a variant human form of CJD acquired from the consumption of BSE-contaminated cattle products (vCJD), and chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer and elk.

“PrioNet’s research will bolster the knowledge base required to predict and manage the deadly impacts of prion diseases,” says Dr Neil Cashman, PrioNet’s scientific director. “Ultimately, these projects will translate to safer food, health, and environmental systems for Canadians.”

The economic crisis resulting from the May 2003 discovery of a Canadian BSE-infected cow spurred a very important research area, says Dr Cashman. PrioNet Canada, established in 2005 through the federal government’s Networks of Centres of Excellence program, was created in response to this crisis. Today, PrioNet is the largest group in Canada working to mitigate the negative impacts of BSE and other prion diseases on society.

“Through research, PrioNet is helping to shed light on these devastating but mysterious diseases,” said Dr Suzanne Fortier, chair of the Networks of Centres of Excellence Steering Committee and president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. “This is just one example of how the NCE program is supporting the government’s vision of a healthier, more prosperous and more competitive Canada through science and technology.”

More information on the projects is available from PrioNet’s website at http://www.prionetcanada.ca/detail.aspx?menu=3&app=108&cat1=399&tp=2&lk=no&title=Research+Themes+and+Projects.