Prion Disease Killing Many Mammals
Prions are known to migrate, mutate and multiply. They become more voracious as they move from one host to another. New research adds to the bank of evidence that a deadly prion is a deadly prion and they know no borders between species. For years, food safety experts and wildlife managers have put people at ease by hiding behind the myth of species barriers. Blind faith can kill you when it comes to prion dynamics.
Canadian researchers recently discovered a slight change in prions’ makeup appears to give mad cow disease the ability to adapt and spread to other animals. Mutation still is likely a more accurate term, but “adaptation” is close enough for government work. I think the “adaptation” is the equivalent of a chemical reaction that takes place when prions are exposed to a new bank of proteins in a new host (victim).
Neurologist Valerie Sim and her research team at the University of Alberta said the findings might explain how prion diseases, such as chronic wasting disease and mad cow disease, adapt in order to spread between various types of animals.
The prions’ makeup appears to give the disease the ability to adapt by mimicking and recreating new strains with which it comes into contact.
“Prion diseases don’t always successfully go from one animal to another, but when they do, the process is called adaptation. And we want to figure out what triggers that process to happen, what changes happen within prions to allow the disease to spread,” Sim said in a statement.
“One of the important things researchers in this field have realized is that if you pass certain strains of prion disease through a number of different hosts, the disease can adapt along the way and increase the number of susceptible hosts. That’s the big concern right now.”
The findings were published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
Prions are associated with an entire family of neurological disorders that are killing people, wildlife and livestock around the world. These diseases are known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). The operative word is “transmissible.” TSEs include Alzheimer’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, scrapie, chronic wasting disease and mad cow disease. The disease has killed many species of mammals including dolphins and likely is killing whales.
Crossbow Communications specializes in issue management and public affairs. Alzheimer’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, chronic wasting disease and the prion disease epidemic is an area of special expertise. Please contact Gary Chandler to join our coalition for reform firstname.lastname@example.org.