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Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs)

Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) are diseases of the brain and nervous system which gradually destroy brain tissues, giving it a characteristics sponge-like appearance under a microscope. Examples of TSEs are scrapie in sheep, bovine spongiform encephalopathy in cattle, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in humans.


There are several forms of CJD in humans, the most common being sporadic CJD, which affects mostly middle-aged or elderly people.

There is also a rare, familial form of the disease which can be inherited called Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker syndrome (GSS). In 1996 the UK National CJD Surveillance Unit identified a new form which affects mostly young adults, known as variant CJD (vCJD).


This section contains more information on UK research into TSEs, both by the MRC and other funding organisations.

Key facts about our TSE research
UK TSE Portfolio
Archive UK TSE Portfolio search