A new study has shed light on why a woman developed a fatal brain disease linked to mad cow disease several years after piercing her skin with contaminated laboratory equipment.

A woman in France who developed a rare and fatal brain disease did so via accidental lab exposure to the proteins that cause mad cow disease, a new study has found.

The initial exposure happened in May 2010, as the then-24-year-old technician “handled frozen sections of brain of transgenic mice that overexpressed the human prion protein” as part of her work, according to the report.

Prions are the type of protein behind mad cow disease. In this instance, it’s thought that the woman pricked her finger on a lab instrument contaminated with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). (RT)