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Friday, 30 November, 2001, 15:17 GMT
'Blunder' lab's world class reputation
Institute for Animal Health
The laboratory has an international reputation
The leading Edinburgh laboratory at the centre of the row over a mix-up in research into BSE in sheep has a world class reputation.

Scientists at the Neuropathogenesis Unit, part of the Institute for Animal Health (IAH), are internationally-renowned experts in the study of scrapie, BSE and CJD.

But the reputation of the laboratory has taken a knock after researchers spent three years studying what they thought were the liquidised brains of 3,000 scrapie-infected sheep collected in the early 1990s.

DNA tests later showed they were looking at cow brains.

The IAH is the largest research institute in the UK dedicated to the health of farm animals.

Brain experiment
The laboratory carried out research into animal brain disease
It operates on sites in Surrey and Berkshire as well as Edinburgh, and says its mission is to understand the processes of infectious diseases and improve the efficiency and sustainability of livestock farming.

It also seeks to enhance animal welfare, safeguard the supply and safety of food and protect the environment.

The institute is chiefly government-funded through the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

It also carries out contract research on behalf of industrial clients.

The institute has an international reputation maintaining world and regional reference laboratories for 10 major diseases which affect farm livestock.

International consortium

It also keeps a vaccine bank for foot-and-mouth disease on behalf of an international consortium.

The IAH's Neuropathogenesis Unit in the south of Edinburgh is concerned exclusively with research on the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies of sheep (scrapie), cattle (BSE) and humans (CJD).

The research costs about 3m per year out of the institute's 25m budget.

The IAH employs more than 500 people on three sites - Compton near Newbury in Berkshire, West Mains Road, Edinburgh and Pirbright near Woking in Surrey.


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See also:

22 Oct 01 | Sci/Tech
Why sheep brains are a puzzle
23 Nov 01 | Health
CJD deaths 'may have peaked'
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