Subtle changes in prions may have big ramifications

03/11/2013 | ScienceDaily

Prions make subtle changes that allow them to mirror new strains they encounter, a process called adaptation, potentially allowing the pathogenic proteins to spread to a new species, according to recently published research. "We want to determine why one prion disease might be able to spread from one type of animal to another and why another strain of the disease can't," said lead researcher and neurologist Valerie Sim. In the case of chronic wasting disease, researchers hope to determine whether prions passed from deer to other animals via contaminated soil can evolve to infect additional species.

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