Traits of Prions and Their Effects on Human Beings

Topics: Prion, Bovine spongiform encephalopathy, Transmissible spongiform encephalopathy Pages: 6 (1753 words) Published: October 6, 2013
Running head: TRAITS OF PRIONS AND THEIR EFFECTS 1

Traits of Prions and
Their Effects on Human Beings
Dennis Wei
Saint Joseph High School

TRAITS OF PRIONS AND THEIR EFFECTS 2 CONTENTS
Abstract3
Discovery4
What’s a Prion5
How Prions Replicate6
How Prions kill6
A List of Prion Diseases7
Human Prion Diseases7
Animal Prion Diseases7
About BSE8
Human Prion Diseases in the United States8
What is the treatment for prion diseases?9
The Fatalness of Prions9
The importance of prion research9
References11

TRAITS OF PRIONS AND THEIR EFFECTS 3 Abstract
This paper explores different definitions of prion. Prion is a kind of protein; it doesn’t have any DNA or RNA. It’s different from virus but both of prion and virus can bring to human beings diseases. It’s so difficult to definition prion, because whether prion is a creature is still a controversial question. This paper shows some traits of prion and the differences between normal proteins and prions and some prion diseases that have strong effects on human beings. It also shows the history of the discovery of prion in the 20th century. Keywords: protein, prion, disease

TRAITS OF PRIONS AND THEIR EFFECTS 4 Traits of Prions and
Their Effects on Human Beings
Prions are proteins that are unique in their ability to reproduce on their own and become infectious (Learn.Genetics™, 2012). Prion diseases affect the nervous system in humans and animals. In people, prion diseases usually caused memory changes, personality changes, a decline in intellectual function (dementia). There is no way to find if people have prion diseases, and these diseases lead to death within a few months to several years. Discovery

In the 1950s, there was a kind of disease found in the highlands of New Guinea. Most people in a tribe were infected at that time, and most people of that tribe died from the disease that was called “kuru” by them (Learn.Genetics™, 2012). Most people thought that this disease was caused by a kind of virus which people didn’t know yet. Today we know that the disease is not caused by “kuru”, the real pathogen is a kind of protein called prion. Prions cannot be killed by radioactive rays that can destroy nucleic acid like DNA and RNA. That was a significant reason why scientist realized that prion was not a kind of virus. In the 1960s, an English biologist had an audacious hypothesis: there was a kind of “virus” that didn’t have DNA or RNA. But he didn’t have enough evidence to hold his hypothesis, so that he couldn’t testify his found. By 1996, bovine spongiform enceohalopathy (BSE) killed 16,000 cattle in England, and then, 12 English teenagers died from new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD). The TRAITS OF PRIONS AND THEIR EFFECTS 5 news made British very nervous, no one wanted to eat beef at that time. The eruption of BSE attracted lots of scientists all over the world. The research to prion became a very important event at that time. Dr. Stanley Prusiner did a lot of research that about this kind of “virus” and then coined the term "prion" (proteinaceous infectious particle). He went on to win the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1997. What’s a Prion

Prions are proteins that are unique in their ability to reproduce on their own and become infectious. They can occur in two forms called PrP-sen (or PrPc) and PrP-res (or PrPsc). All traits of these two forms are same except the shapes.

PrP-sen (or PrPc) means that this kind of prions is sensitive and these prions are common. They are produced by normal healthy cells. Most of PrP-sen are present mainly in neurons in the brain, but sometimes they are also found in other cell types. Scientists don’t know the exact function of PrP-sen, but they found some evidence that could...


References: CDC - Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). (n.d.). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved May 9, 2013, from http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/bse/
CDC - Prion Diseases. (2010, January 1). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved May 9, 2013, from http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/prions/
Prion disease. (n.d.). Genetics Home Reference. Retrieved May 9, 2013, from http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/prion-disease
Prions: On the Trail of Killer Proteins. (n.d.). Learn.Geneticsâ„¢. Retrieved May 9, 2013, from http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/begin/dna/prions/
Prusiner, S. (n.d.). The Prion Diseases. (1995, January) Scientific American. Retrieved May 9, 2013, from mvc.bioweb.dcccd.edu/weblinks/scbsesp.htm
Robert C. Holman, Ermias D. Belay, Krista Y. Christensen, Ryan A. Maddox, Arialdi M. Minino, Arianne M. Folkema, Dana L. Haberling, Teresa A. Hammett, Kenneth D. Kochanek, James J. Sejvar, Lawrence B. Schonberger. (2010, January 1). Human Prion Diseases in the United States. PLOS ONE : accelerating the publication of peer-reviewed science. Retrieved May 11, 2013, from http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0008521
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