BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Health  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Medical notes
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Tuesday, 17 December, 2002, 16:40 GMT
CJD drug: A scientist's view
Dr Stephen Dealler
Dr Dealler believes Pentosan can help
Microbiologist Dr Stephen Dealler had no link with the High Court case - but believes that using an experimental drug on vCJD patients is the way forward.

BBC News Online spoke to him.


Dr Dealler, a medical microbiologist at Lancaster Royal Infirmary, has been researching prion disease for more than a decade.

For much of that time, he has championed a drug called pentosan polysulphate, a controversial treatment which he claims will be able to have an effect on vCJD.

He has followed its progress through various experiments on animals.

Now, with two teenagers given the go-ahead by the High Court to receive the drug, he is waiting with anticipation to see what it can do in humans.

Really I wouldn't expect them to improve - a certain number of cells in their brain will have died and won't come back

Dr Stephen Dealler
He said: "Injecting the drug into the brain of mice dying from CJD has been shown to do amazing things.

"This drug has been used in mice, in test tubes, we knew why it was likely to work in humans.

"But in fact this drug cannot be injected intravenously because it just doesn't get into the brain, that's always been the case."

Cautious hope

However, he is not expecting a full recovery from either of the vCJD patients involved in the court action.

At best, he says, the drug may delay or halt the progress of the disease.

Dr Dealler
Dr Dealler has researched vCJD for more than a decade
He said:"Really I wouldn't expect them to improve - a certain number of cells in their brain will have died and won't come back.

"We might expect that they won't get any worse, it may lengthen the incubation of the disease."

He said that urine tests for vCJD "prions" were under development, so it might be possible to check on the effects of the drug inside the brain.

"It's such a jump to be able to treat people with symptoms, and although these symptoms may not go away.

Blood tests

A far bigger potential problem, he said, is the possibility that many more people are currently incubating the disease, and may fall ill later in life.

He believes that if these people could be identified through blood testing, then pentosan could a way of helping them.

It's such a jump to be able to treat people with symptoms

Dr Stephen Dealler
"We are going to be testing blood transfusion donors, we are going to be testing their blood to see if they are incubating CJD, and these tests aren't very far away - but what do we do if we find they are incubating it?

"At the moment we just tell them they are going to die.

"With this kind of treatment, the possibility appears of at least finding some kind of treatment to make sure they are alright."

He said: "We must make sure these people don't die from disease and that's where this drug comes in.

"We may be able to give it to them and stop them getting ill. It's so exciting."

See also:

17 Dec 02 | Health
17 Dec 02 | Health
17 Dec 02 | Health
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes