transmissible spongiform encephalopathy

Resistance to prion disease in humans

Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) are rare human neurodegenerative disorders that are caused by infectious proteins called prions. A naturally occurring variant of the human prion has been found that completely protects against the disease. A protective variant of the prion protein was discovered in the Fore people of Papua New Guinea. Beginning in the early 1900s, the prion disease kuru spread among Fore women and children as …

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Is chronic wasting disease a threat to humans?

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a prion disease of cervids (deer, elk, moose). It was first detected in Wyoming and Colorado, and has since spread rapidly throughout North America (illustrated; image credit). Because prions that cause bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, mad cow disease) are known to infect humans, there is concern that CWD might also cross the …

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Detecting prions by quaking and shaking

The human prion disease, Creutzfeld-Jacob, is diagnosed by a variety of criteria, including clinical features, electroencephalograms, and magnetic resonance imaging. Until recently there was no non-invasive assay to detect PrPSc, the only specific marker for the disease. This challenge has been overcome using amplification procedures to detect Creutzfeldt-Jakob prions in nasal brushings and in urine. These …

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TWiV 299: Rocky Mountain virology

On episode #299 of the science show This Week in Virology, Vincent visits the Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, Montana and speaks with Marshall Bloom, Sonja Best, and Byron Caughey about their work on tick-born flaviviruses, innate immunity, and prion diseases. You can find TWiV #299 at

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