The aim of this project is to develop sensitive and specific assays allowing early detection of pathological misfolded proteins in blood. The development of a test for the specific detection of the prion responsible for the variant form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) is an important public health issue. The major hurdle for the identification of vCJD is the very small quantity of the abnormal prion protein in blood of affected patients. It is estimated, based on animal infectivity study, to be 1 billion less concentrated than in the brain. Our patented diagnostic approach combines the capture and concentration of prion proteins by nanobeads covered with plasminogen and the amplification of abnormal prions by an amplification technique (PMCA) that reproduces in vitro the natural transconformation process. This innovative test is able to detect in blood the causal prion responsible of vCJD and also makes possible to demonstrate that this agent can be identified one to two years before the appearance of the symptoms of the disease (Bougard et al, STM 2016). This blood assay could be used to diagnose live patients and will make possible to discriminate vCJD from other forms of CJD, including its sporadic form. This approach will be develop to better understand other proteinopathies.
Chantal FOURNIER-WIRTH obtained a PhD Degree in Life Sciences, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Montpellier (France) in 1999. She started her career as a researcher at the EFS (Etablissement Français du Sang) in the team directed by Dr Joliette Coste in Montpellier. The team has merged with clinicians in 2015 in a mixed research unit dedicated to the pathogenesis and control of chronic infections. She is now involved in the development and the coordination of multidisciplinary projects on diagnostic innovations.
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