New lab to focus on prion research
The University of Calgary has received government funding to open a new research facility that will focus on prions.
Prions are the proteins that cause diseases such as Creutzfeldt-Jacob-Disease (CJD) in humans, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle and chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer and elk.
According to the University of Calgary’s website, recent investments by the Alberta Prion Research Institute (APRI) and the Alberta Ingenuity Fund (AIF), totalling $15 million across the province, have been committed to support new research infrastructure, university and industry-led research projects, and the recruitment of new prion researchers to Alberta.
The university’s website also says the support from APRI and AIF has attracted additional funding from industry and other provincial and federal agencies amounting to $26 million, for basic pre-commercial research and development across the province.
Markus Czub, a renowned prion researcher recruited to the new facility, says the lab has two main priorities.
One is to develop tests that will enable researchers to diagnose prion diseases as early as possible and the other is to discover mechanisms that will ultimately prevent the uptake of prions and prevent infections.
Czub has established a multi disciplinary prion research group with partners from the University of Calgary faculties of medicine and veterinary medicine, the University of Lethbridge and institutions in Manitoba and Germany.
BSE discovered in 2003
A Calgary Herald article reports that the discovery in 2003 of BSE in Alberta caused dozens of countries to ban Canadian beef. The discovery cost the industry $7 billion in losses to 2005.