Prions - June 25th, 2008

It was during my undergraduate years that I started appreciating the trascendence of the work as a scientist. Dr. Stanley Prusiner was not taken seriously initially when he announced the existence of a nonliving transforming agent to the scientific community around the mid 80s.

Prions are chaperone proteins, polypeptides in charge of the folding of other proteins. When a cell contains the infective form, the consequences can be counted by the millions, of cows and dollars. But as humans, we are not exempt of the risks. We can contract a type of prion disease called CJD or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, where the brain becomes something like a sponge, literally.

A new report has come out informing that prions are a very strong form af aberrant proteins, describing the work of Wisconsin scientists reporting the persistence of prions in wastewater 20 days after the water passed through regular sewage treatment.
This report is available as open-access in this link.

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