BBC News (Internet / TV) 07/07/06 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/5153590.stm A blood test to detect the human form of mad cow disease before it causes symptoms is a step closer, say experts. Spanish and US scientists have found a way to detect infection in hamsters before the animal shows signs of illness. More work is needed before a similar test could be used in humans, but the findings offer hope of a screening test for vCJD, Science reports. Currently, it is only possible to confirm vCJD infection after death. A test for vCJD is badly needed, especially now that some cases appear to have been transmitted by blood transfusions, say Dr Paula Saa and colleagues from the University of Texas. The scientists believe that the test could ultimately be used in humans. They told Science: "Although technically more challenging, the PMCA technology has been adapted to amplify prions of human origin.”