Epilogue by C. Masters

"The challenges presented by BSE and vCJD over the past 20 years have not yet been met, although the signs are good for the eventual control of BSE in Europe. Many critical scenarios lie ahead, particularly in the vCJD human health aspects of subclinical infection and human-to-human transmission through blood transfusions and surgical procedures. So far, the indications are that a major catastrophe has been averted, but it will be at least another 10 years before we have the confidence to assess the final risk.

In the meantime, we must not give up on the efforts to develop a sensitive blood and tissue assay system whilst pursuing rational therapeutic strategies at the same time. These research understandings will only come from a more complete analysis of the molecular basis of PrP infectivity and pathogenesis (neurodegeneration). 

Much has been accomplished – witness the contributions in the book "Prions in Humans and Animals": but many surprises remain in store in our quest to remove this threat to both human and animal health."

Prof Colin L Masters MD
Department of Pathology, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, 3010, Victoria, Australia.