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D. Cutting-Edge Technology Used to Detect Mad Cow Disease

Narrator: This is Science Today. Mad cow disease was first recognized in the mid-1980s in Europe. It's a neurological disease in which an abnormal protein gets into the brain and causes the brain to look like Swiss cheese. This protein passes through feed to the cow and there have been a few cases of a similar disease in humans. Jim Cullor, a veterinary professor at the University of California, Davis, led a team that developed a new livestock feed test that guards against mad cow disease.

Cullor: What this test does is apply forensic techniques, DNA techniques in enhancing the detection of contaminants in the feed. This is a new generation of assay, it's very modern, it's very cutting edge, but it's a technique that can be applied across the nation and around the world.

Narrator: Before this new feed test was developed, federal regulators had to rely on tests that were lengthier and less accurate.

Cullor: We're working on making it a rapid test that can be used both from a regulatory perspective and even down on the farm. Right now we're down to about a five-hour turnaround time.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.