The current belief is that chronic wasting disease (CWD) and other fatal transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) are caused by a misfolded protein called a prion. However, there is no solid evidence to support this theory.
Our laboratory has found that a spiral-shaped bacterium called Spiroplasma is present in 100% of TSE samples. This bacterium has the same biological properties as the TSE transmissible agent. We believe that Spiroplasma is the cause of CWD and other TSEs.
We are developing a diagnostic test for CWD based on this bacterium. This test will be a valuable tool for early detection and prevention of CWD.