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.