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Study Could Shed Light on Prion Adaptation

13 March 2013

CANADA – A University of Alberta research team has made a discovery that could explain how prion diseases adapt in order to spread across different species.

It is hoped that two years of work, led by neurologist, Valerie Sim, may shed light on how the prions relevant to chronic wasting disease and mad cow disease make minute adaptations.

"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," said Mrs Sim.

"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.”

Why some prion disease can spread across species and some cannot is the current new focus for Ms Sim and her team.

The team will be giving particular attention to chronic wasting disease because of its ability to spread being so different from that of mad cow disease.

Questions also stand to be asked about how prions evolve when deposited in the soil for years.

Further Reading

You can view the abstract and full report by clicking here.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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