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NIH to shut down mad cow lab

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WASHINGTON, Jul 28, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- The U.S. federal laboratory credited with conducting groundbreaking work on human brain disorders similar to mad cow disease is closing.

Dr. Paul Brown will retire Friday after 40 years of dealing with these mysterious, incurable and fatal diseases, known collectively as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. The lab, which is officially known as the Laboratory for Central Nervous System Studies, is located at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.

TSEs, which include mad cow disease and its human equivalent, Creutzfeldt Jakob disease, destroy the brain and are always fatal. The NIH's decision to shut down the lab is confusing to some experts in the field -- including Brown -- particularly because these diseases are not fully understood and there is no therapy or cure in sight.

A panel of 12 experts assembled by the Institute of Medicine recommended in a report released late last year that the NIH maintain a lab similar to the CNSS to help promulgate research into treatments and cures for TSEs.

An NIH official said that possibility is being considered, but at present the agency can achieve its research goals by funding outside laboratories at universities.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.


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