'Academic jealousy' holding up efforts to find vCJD treatments, claims ex-chairman
EXPERTS monitoring the human form of mad cow disease were accused yesterday of letting "academic jealousy" hamper efforts to find improved treatments for variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD).
Despite being given the go-ahead two years ago, trials into drugs to treat the illness have yet to get off the ground because the vCJD Surveillance Unit in Edinburgh and the Medical Research Council (MRC) in London have been unable to agree how best to work together.
The trials would encompass both variant CJD - the human form of mad cow disease - and sporadic CJD, which occurs naturally in the brain.
Sir Iain Chalmers, who recently resigned as chairman of the trial steering committee, said yesterday: "When I joined up I didn’t realise that some staff at the National vCJD Surveillance Unit in Edinburgh, who’ve done a really wonderful job in their surveillance role, were angry that people working for the MRC in London had been asked to establish a national framework for assessing treatment."
He said that he believed the Edinburgh unit’s lack of support for a national framework was "in fact due to academic jealousy". He added that they saw it as an invasion of what they felt should be their exclusive domain.
A statement from the Unit said yesterday: "A meeting of the trial steering committee and the Department of Health was held on Wednesday, and we all hope the protocol for the trial will be finalised shortly."
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