TSE diseases are illnesses which affect the brain, and include Mad Cow Disease (BSE), CJD in humans, and Scrapie in sheep. These diseases impair the physical co-ordination and mental capability of the host and lead inextricably to death.
TSEs are caused by build up of proteins in the brain. These proteins have folded from their normal shapes in harmful, abnormal shapes. Andy Gill and his group are investigating why this happens and how to stop it happening.
In order to investigate this, Andy uses bacteria to produce the proteins in the lab. Sophisticated instruments are then used to analyse the abnormal proteins, and identify their shapes. These are then compared to the proteins found in the non-disease brain.