ARCHIVE: BSE: Science & research - Glossary/abbreviations
Allele - One member of a pair or series of genes that occupy a specific position (locus) on a specific chromosome.
Aggregate - A number of misfolded protein molecules that are associated together in an ordered or disordered manner.
Antibodies - Proteins found in the blood which are used by the immune system to identify and neutralize foreign objects. Can be used in diagnostic assays such as immunoblotting or ELISA to detect specific proteins e.g. PrPSc.
BBSRC - Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.
Bioassay - Determination of the biological activity of a sample, by comparing its effects with those of a standard preparation on a culture of living cells or a test organism.
BSE - Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy - A fatal neurological disease of cattle which typically involves pronounced changes in mental state, abnormalities of posture, movement and sensation.
Clinical case - Animal which displays the physical signs and symptoms of TSE.
DH - Department of Health.
ELISA - Enzyme Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay – a biochemical technique to detect the presence of an antibody or antigen (e.g. PrPSc) in a sample.
Epidemiology - The study of the incidence, distribution and control of a disease in a population.
Genotyping - A test on DNA obtained from blood (tissue or semen) to determine the genetic makeup of an animal. In relation to the NSP, genotyping relates to the genes encoding the sheep’s prion protein.
Homozygote - Possessing two identical forms of a particular gene, one inherited from each parent.
Horizontal transmission - Direct or indirect transmission of disease from animal to animal, rather than from parent to offspring (see Vertical transmission).
Immunoblot - otherwise known as a western blot – A method to detect a specific protein in a given sample.
MBM - Meat and Bone Meal - The solid product of rendering mammalian tissues remaining after extraction of rendered fat (tallow). May also be known as greaves.
Pathogenesis - The study of the origin and development of disease, in particular the sequence in which the tissues of the body become infected and the progression of clinical signs both in experimentally and naturally infected animals.
Perinatal - the period occurring around the time of birth.
Phage - Virus-like agent that infects bacteria.
Polymorphism - Having multiple alleles of a gene within a population.
Prevalence - The number of diseased animals as a proportion of the number of animals (population) at risk of the disease.
PRNP - Prion protein locus (the position of the prion protein coding gene on a chromosome).
Protein -Large organic compounds made of amino acids arranged in a linear chain and joined together by peptide bonds between the carboxyl and amino groups of adjacent amino acid residues. The sequence of amino acids in a protein is defined by a gene.
PrP - Prion protein.
PrPc - Normal cellular prion protein, found naturally in the body.
PrPSc - Abnormal form of prion protein associated with TSE infection.
Protease e.g. proteinase K - An enzyme which breaks down protein. The disease-associated prion protein is resistant to protease activity.
Rendering - A method of disposal of animal by-products typically involving mincing and heating (possibly under pressure). Also known as processing.
Scrapie - A fatal neurological disease of sheep which typically involves pronounced changes in mental state, abnormalities of posture, movement and sensation. In recent years scrapie has been differentiated into two main forms – classical and atypical– based upon the results of diagnostic tests.
SEAC - Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee.
Species barrier effect - The observed difficulty in transmitting an infection from an animal of one species to one of another by comparison with transmission between members of the same species.
SRM - Specified Risk Material - Animal tissues most likely to contain BSE infectivity.
Surrogate marker (for TSE diagnostic assays) - A laboratory measurement of a change within the body that indirectly indicates disease progression.
TSE -Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy - A group of neurological diseases which cause a spongy appearance in the brain which is visible when tissue is examined under the light microscope and which can be transmitted, at least experimentally, to other animals of the same or different species.
Vertical transmission - Transmission of disease from parent to its offspring e.g. from cow to calf.
VLA - Veterinary Laboratories Agency (an Executive Agency of Defra).
Page last modified: 7 March 2008