Navigation Links
Medical researchers in Canada and the US discover hidden side of prion diseases

Medical researchers in Canada and the United States recently published their joint findings that fatal prion diseases, which include BSE or "mad cow disease," have a hidden signature.

Findings published this month in the peer-reviewed journal, Public Library of Science (PLoS) Pathogens, demonstrate that up to seven months before an animal shows physical signs of having a prion infection, a particular prion protein in the brain was being eradicated. This member of the prion family is known as shadoo protein.

"What we discovered is that as the early prion disease process unfolds in an infected brain, that the shadoo protein is simultaneously disappearing," said lead author and co-principal investigator, David Westaway, a researcher in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Alberta.

"This is telling us there is a process within the disease that we were previously unaware of, a process that is happening before the infected animals are getting sick. It's telling us that the brain cells are more active in defending themselves than what we thought they were. The brain cells are in fact trying to get rid of the prion protein and as a consequence, this bystander shadoo protein is being destroyed unintentionally.

"This finding suggests that prion diseases are dynamic and not necessarily unstoppable, that there could be a cellular process trying to destroy the infectious prions as they appear. And if we could help that process a little bit more, that might be an avenue to attenuate the disease."

Westaway, who works in both the Division of Neurology of the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, and the Centre for Prions and Protein Folding Diseases at the U of A, collaborated with a team of researchers from Ontario, the University of California, the Institute for Systems Biology in Washington, the McLaughlin Research Institute in Montana and a researcher in Germany, on this discovery.

The same day this paper was published, very similar findings were published by a team of researchers from the University of California, which demonstrates "these new chemical changes are a concrete and reproducible hallmark of prion disease," says Westaway.

Co-principal investigator George Carlson, from the McLaughlin Research Institute, added: "Given that shadoo may be destroyed by a process that actually targets infectious prions, it was surprising that when we increased the amount of shadoo in laboratory models that the course of disease was not changed. We need to understand why."

The next step for Westaway's research team is to determine why this shadoo protein is disappearing.

The finding opens up a new window of research opportunities.

"We need to better understand this. We want to solve this mystery," he says.


Contact: Raquel Maurier
University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry

Related biology news :

1. Roche NimbleGen and BGI develop advanced MHC region capture technology for biomedical research
2. New medical, research tool possible by probing cell mechanics
3. University Hospitals Case Medical Center unlocks mystery of dystonia with advanced imaging
4. Advanced Medical Care for At-Risk Newborns Nets Economic Benefits
5. Biotech start-up brings DNA-sequencing to the medical market
6. Medical researchers make important research link between active ingredient in saffron and MS
7. Athens Regional Medical Center Upgrades to Omnicell G4 Platform for Supply and Medication Management
8. Manufacturing microscale medical devices for faster tissue engineering
9. Lung regeneration closer to reality with new discovery by Weill Cornell Medical College researchers
10. 21 Fellows inducted into American College of Medical Informatics
11. Researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center review the microbiome and its possible role in cancers
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/12/2015)...   Growing need for low-cost, easy to ... paving the way for use of biochemical sensors ... in clinical, agricultural, environmental, food and defense applications. ... medical applications, however, their adoption is increasing in ... emphasis on improving product quality and growing need ...
(Date:11/9/2015)... , Nov. 09, 2015 ... the addition of the "Global Law ... their offering. --> ) ... "Global Law Enforcement Biometrics Market 2015-2019" ... Research and Markets ( ) has ...
(Date:10/29/2015)...   MedNet Solutions , an innovative SaaS-based eClinical ... research, is pleased to announce that it has been ... one of only three finalists for a 2015 ... Growing" category. The Tekne Awards honor Minnesota ... innovation and leadership. iMedNet™ eClinical ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... CHESHAM , England , November 26, ... Lightpoint Medical, an innovative medical device company specializing in ... Euro grant from the European Commission as part of the ... enabling the company to carry out a large-scale clinical trial ... -->      (Logo: , ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... Studies reveal the differences in species of ... way for more effective treatment for one of the most ... --> --> Gum disease is ... yet relatively little was understood about the bacteria associated with ... by researchers from the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition together ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... , ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OPBAP) has been formalized with the signing ... AMA team leaders met with OPBAP leaders Capt. Karl Minter and Capt. Albert ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia , Nov. 24, 2015 ... the global contract research organisation (CRO) market. The ... to result in lower margins but higher volume ... With increased capacity and scale, however, margins in ... Contract Research Organisation (CRO) Market ( ...
Breaking Biology Technology: