The UK Government today pledged to fund further research into a potential drug treatment for the human form of mad cow disease, variant CJD.

Experts in the US have completed studies that suggest that quinacrine may be a potentially valuable drug in the treatment of the deadly brain wasting disease, and the Department of Health has now asked the Government-funded Medical Research Council to fast-track the design of a clinical trial into the its effectiveness.

Professor Liam Donaldson, chief medical officer, explained: “I have asked the Medical Research Council to design a trial that will evaluate the efficacy and potential side effects of the drug quinacrine so that we have this information as soon as possible.”