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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Mad Cow

Winning the Nobel Prize and starting a biotech company is what modern day biology scientists strive for. Fame and fortune for boring biology folk. Back in 1986 people were starting to talk about Stan Prusiner. In 1997 Dr. Prusiner won the Nobel Prize in Medicine. In 2000 he founded a biotech company called InPro Biotechnology, which focused on a Mad Cow test developed in his UCSF lab.

Before InPro, Prusiner signed on with Chiron. They put up the money and Prusiner provided the brain power. By 2000, Chiron had enough and chose to cut their losses at 5 million rather than continue to fund the assay development. Prusiner marched forward. In 2004 Prusiners InPro signed a deal with Beckman Coulter and put the assay on the European market. InPro is still in business in South San Francisco. They are not alone.

NEW YORK, Oct. 10, 2006 (PRIMEZONE) -- Genesis Bioventures, Inc. (GBI) (OTCBB:GBIW) announced today that Prion Developmental Laboratories ("PDL"), its minority owned subsidiary company, entered into a contract manufacturing agreement with InBios International, Inc. ("InBios"), a leading biotechnology company in Seattle, Washington, to manufacture PDL's Mad Cow Disease ("BSE") and other TSE Rapid Diagnostic Tests.

Bio-Rad has a mad cow assay that is the most widely used in Europe for testing cattle for BSE, and it is used almost exclusively in Japan to test all its slaughtered animals.

Washington State University is asking the federal government for $25 million to build a facility to test for BSE at the University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, and $2 million to continue research related to a live-animal BSE test and other food-borne disease agents.

The Cambridge Health Institutes 9th Annual meeting on Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies, The Definitive TSE Meeting, two diagnostic assays were presented.

A Rapid Pre-Symptomatic Diagnostic Test for PrPsc in Tissue and Blood Using Conformationally Sensitive PrP Peptide Ligands Dr. Cindy S. Orser, Adlyfe, Inc. and Georgetown University

Development of an in vitro TSE Infectivity Assay: Application to Validation of Manufacturing Processes Dr. Benoit Flan, LFB, Laboratoire Fran├žais du Fractionnement et des Biotechnologies

After all that you would think that there is a reliable test available. You would be wrong. 99.999999999 percent of all cows do not come down with mad cow. You could be wrong that one time when there is a mad cow but right the other millions of times when the cow is not mad. Those are good odds. If all you have to do is test every cow they throw at you, you will have over a 99% accuracy IF your assay says negative 100% of the time.

Here is what the mad cow testers do not do. Obtain brain samples from 999 normal cows. Add in one mad cow brain to the group. If anyone can pick out the mad cow, and only the mad cow, they move on to round 2 where the same material is sent out again. Repeat a third time. Not going to happen.

I'm going to end on a positive note. You are not going to die of mad cow. No matter who you are or where you live, the odds of you dying of mad cow are slim to none. It's all part of the Cargo Cult Science. There is nothing to it but a lot of adults pretending to do work. InPro joins the Cargo Cult as a charter member. Their logo is a flame that illuminates the runway.

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