Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Clue to prion formation found, offers step toward treating puzzling diseases

09.05.2003


Prions—their existence is intriguing and their links to disease are unsettling. These unconventional infectious agents are involved in mad cow disease and other fatal brain illnesses in humans and animals, rattling prior assumptions about the spread of infections.

Dartmouth Medical School biochemists studying the mysteries of these prion particles have discovered a novel step in their formation. Their results, reported in a recent issue of Biochemistry could help provide a new approach for therapy against prion diseases. The team, headed by Dr. Surachai Supattapone, assistant professor of biochemistry and of medicine, includes Ralf Lucassen and Koren Nishina.

The cause of certain neurodegenerative diseases has long stymied scientists. The variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans -- which is linked to bovine spongiform encephalopathy or mad cow disease -- as well as scrapie in sheep and chronic wasting disease in deer and elk are transmissible.



Yet the infectious agent is not a parasite, fungus, bacterium or virus. Instead, it seems to be a prion, which is a protein, but an abnormally shaped one. A normal brain protein called PrPC misfolds into the prion protein called PrPSc. Until prions were discovered, proteins were not considered agents of infection.

Still unknown is how PrPC turns into PrPSc, which is characterized biochemically by being resistant to enyzme digestion. The researchers created a system to study the conversion into PrPSc in a test tube.

“We found that we could inhibit this conversion with compounds that block free sulfhydryl groups,” said Supattapone. “This is the first discovery that formation of PrPSc requires a reactive chemical group. It is a clue that there may be a cofactor containing the free sulfhydryl group, such as an enzyme that helps to catalyze the process of forming PrPSc from PrPC. Moreover, it may be a first step of a logical approach to find a therapeutic strategy against prion disease based on specifically inhibiting a catalytic cofactor.”

Andy Nordhoff | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.dartmouth.edu/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Single-stranded DNA and RNA origami go live
15.12.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard

nachricht New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists
15.12.2017 | Louisiana State University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>