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Prion Pause to Investigate

A three-month moratorium on prion research has been instituted at public research institutions in France after a retired lab worker was diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Science reports.

It adds that an investigation is underway to determine whether the individual, who worked at the National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food, and Environment, contracted Creutzfeldt-Jakob at work.

According to Science, a previous lab accident at INRAE led to the 2019 death of Émilie Jaumain. She died 10 years after pricking her thumb while working with prion-infected mice, it adds, noting that the link between her accident and death was largely clear as she had variant CJD, which has essentially disappeared from Europe. Her family has brought both criminal charges and an administrative suit against the lab, it says. Science adds that Jaumain's death led to the tightening of safety rules at prion labs.

It notes that more information is needed to determine whether the newly affected individual has vCJD or classic CJD, which it notes can occur sporadically.