If the apparent partial recovery of Rachel Forber, the young English woman diagnosed with vCJD continues, and if mice studies reported this week are as promising as they look, there is hope for people suffering from CJD and vCJD and for public health officials still unsure how widespread vCJD contracted from eating infected beef is likely to be.

But experts caution that clinical trials — scheduled to begin this autumn — are needed to establish efficacy and that it is possible that Ms Forber was misdiagnosed.

Ms Forber received treatment with the antimalarial drug quinacrine after her father sought help from the San Francisco-based laboratory of Stanley Prusiner, who won the Nobel prize for medicine in 1997 for his explanation of the cause of diseases such as CJD and BSE. After 19 days, she seemed to be recovering some memory and movement finctions.

The mechanism of action of quinacrine remains...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?