Finding Biomarkers

Finding Biomarkers for Chronic Wasting Disease

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a prion disease affecting deer, elk, reindeer, sika deer, and moose. Over the past few decades, it has spread into populations of these animals in North America and elsewhere. The disease affects the brain, and there are no treatments or vaccines; current testing can only be done postmortem. In order to fight the spread of the disease, there is a serious need for the ability to test animals prior to death.

MSI PI Pam Skinner (professor, Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences) and Peizhi Zho are working on a project called “Identification of CWD Biomarkers in Whitetail Deer,” in which they are working to gain understanding of CWD pathogenesis and to identify CWD biomarkers that can be used for early diagnosis. The project uses RNA-seq analysis for biomarker discovery.

This project recently received a Research Computing Seed Grant. RC Seed Grant funds are intended to promote, catalyze, accelerate and advance U of M-based informatics research in areas related to the MnDRIVE initiative, so that U of M faculty and staff are well prepared to compete for longer term external funding opportunities. 

This Seed Grant falls under the Global Food research area of the MnDRIVE initiative.

Finding Biomarkers for Chronic Wasting Disease

Image description: This project uses nasal swabs to collect samples from CWD infected deer at different time points post-infection and control deer. RNA is extracted and cDNA and small RNAs are sequenced to identify potential biomarkers of CWD during early stages of infection.

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