A British woman who was the first to undergo pioneering drug trials aimed at finding a cure for variant CJD, the human form of BSE, died on Friday after a lung infection caused a sudden decline in her health.

In August, Rachel Forber, from Merseyside, in northwest England, became the first vCJD sufferer in the world to take the drug Quinacrine. She began the course after her natural father Stephen contacted Nobel Prize winning scientist Professor Stanley Prusiner, who discovered the cause of BSE in cattle and CJD in humans.

It is believed that she was taken off the drug after complications affected her liver, but after just three weeks of the course she had been able to get out of bed and walk unaided, and even swim in the sea during a family holiday.