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Scripps research study shows infectious prions can arise spontaneously in normal brain tissue
Date:7/26/2010

rion protein (PrPC). Following prion infection, the abnormal or misfolded prion protein (PrPSc) converts PrPC into a likeness of itself, by causing it to change its conformation or shape. The end-stage consists of large aggregates of these misfolded proteins, which cause massive tissue and cell damage.

A Highly Sensitive Test

In the new study, the scientists used the Scrapie Cell Assay, a test originally created by Weissmann that is highly sensitive to minute quantities of prions.

Using the Scrapie Cell Assay to measure infectivity of prion-coated wires, the team observed several unexpected instances of infectious prions in control groups where metal wires had been exposed only to uninfected normal mouse brain tissue. In the current study, this phenomenon was investigated in rigorous and exhaustive control experiments specifically designed to exclude prion contamination. Weissmann and his colleagues in London found that when normal prion protein is coated onto steel wires and brought into contact with cultured cells, a small but significant proportion of the coated wires cause prion infection of the cells and when transferred to mice, they continue to spawn the disease.

Weissmann noted that an alternative interpretation of the results is that infectious prions are naturally present in the brain at levels not detectable by conventional methods, and are normally destroyed at the same rate they are created. If that is the case, he noted, metal surfaces could be acting to concentrate the infectious prions to the extent that they became quantifiable by the team's testing methods.


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Contact: Mika Ono
mikaono@scripps.edu
858-784-2052
Scripps Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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