The management of ANSES, CEA, CNRS, INRAE ​​and Inserm have decided to stop their work on prions, an infectious agent responsible for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, with the support of the Ministry of Research, in the name of the precautionary principle.

She is motivated by “knowledge of a possible new case of a person with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) who worked in a prion research laboratoryThe uncertainty in the present case rests on the origin of the disease.

Read also: Mad cow: a molecule blocks the infection of prions

A rare disease

CJD is one of the prion diseases, better known as “mad cow disease “. It is a rare disease characterized by rapid and fatal degeneration of the central nervous system.

It can be of sporadic origin (which occurs randomly), the most frequent form, of genetic or infectious origin following contamination.

The person with CJD is a retired agent from INRAE ​​(the National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment).

One case detected in 2010

The period of suspension of laboratory work should make it possible to establish a possible link between his disease and his former activity, and if necessary to adapt the preventive measures in force in the laboratories, according to the press release.

If this link were true, this would be the second such accident for someone who worked on prions. An assistant engineer, who was injured in 2010 during an experiment, died of the disease in 2019. In 2020, a New England Journal of Medicine study, based on her case, found a link of potential causality between this incident and his illness.

An inspection mission commissioned by the Ministries of Research and Agriculture concluded in October 2020 that the laboratories were complying with regulatory obligations and that a “risk management culture“, according to the press release.