Surveillance and scientific research are integral and interdependent components of the continued monitoring and investigation of CJD. Surveillance activities are wide-ranging and involve investigating the clinical and diagnostic features, epidemiology, neuropathology, prion protein biochemistry, molecular genetics and CSF biochemistry of referred cases. The Unit also works on a significant number of research projects, in a wide range of professional fields, with collaborators in the UK, Europe and internationally.
Whilst surveillance underpins research, the findings from research can play an important role in surveillance, for example in developing sensitive and specific methods for diagnosis or by identifying risk factors for disease. This provides an opportunity to improve the understanding of this fatal group of diseases and inform decisions on public health. Our current focus includes the evaluation of the risk of secondary transmission of vCJD, characterising infection in different genetic subgroups, determining whether atypical animal TSEs can infect humans, and the development of diagnostic tests for CJD. Further details are given in the project tabs.