New research focuses on prion diseases

March 14, 2011

New research by Chongsuk Ryou, researcher at the UK Sanders-Brown Center on Aging and professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics in the UK College of Medicine, may shed light on possible treatments for prion diseases.

Prion diseases, which include Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans and ("mad cow" disease) in cattle, are caused by prions — unconventional pathogens composed of infectious protein particles and resistant to conventional sterilization procedures. Presently there is no known agent or procedure that can halt or reverse damage caused by prion disease.

Ryou and colleagues, however, have demonstrated through recent work that polymers of amino acid lysine (polylysines) are able to block propagation of prions by targeting plasminogen - a substance that stimulates the multiplication of prions. In test tubes and cultured cells, polylysines halted the spread of prions.

Furthermore, in an animal model of prion disease, mice treated with polylysines displayed symptoms later, survived longer and showed lower levels of prions in their brains than did untreated mice.

"Our study suggests that polylysine is a potential anti-prion agent and validates plasminogen as a therapeutic target to combat prion disease," said Ryou.

Ryou's research appears in the latest issue of the journal Biomaterials.

Explore further: Prion propagates in foreign host

Related Stories

Prion propagates in foreign host

July 5, 2007

Prions -- infectious, oddly-folded proteins that are the main suspects in fatal neurodegenerative diseases such as Cruetzfeldt-Jakob and bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or "mad cow" -- remain mostly a mystery to scientists. ...

Prions show their good side

May 7, 2008

Prions, the infamous agents behind mad cow disease and its human variation, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, also have a helpful side. According to new findings from Gerald Zamponi and colleagues, normally functioning prions prevent ...

Sequence and structure key to prion disease transmission

June 14, 2010

Prion diseases are lethal neurodegenerative disorders that include Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in humans and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE; commonly known as mad cow disease) in cows. A team of researchers, led ...

BSE pathogens can be transmitted by air

January 13, 2011

Airborne prions are also infectious and can induce mad cow disease or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disorder. This is the surprising conclusion of researchers at the University of Zurich, the University Hospital Zurich and the University ...

Recommended for you

Study suggests fish can experience 'emotional fever'

November 25, 2015

(—A small team of researchers from the U.K. and Spain has found via lab study that at least one type of fish is capable of experiencing 'emotional fever,' which suggests it may qualify as a sentient being. In their ...

A huge chunk of a tardigrade's genome comes from foreign DNA

November 23, 2015

Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have sequenced the genome of the nearly indestructible tardigrade, the only animal known to survive the extreme environment of outer space, and found something ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.