Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists Discover That Enzyme Degrades Mad Cow Disease Prion

06.01.2004


Research by North Carolina State University scientists, in conjunction with scientists from the Netherlands and BioResource International, an NC State spin-off biotechnology company, has shown that, under proper conditions, an enzyme can fully degrade the prion – or protein particle – believed to be responsible for mad cow disease and other related animal and human diseases.



These transmissible prions – believed to be the cause of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), the technical name for mad cow disease, as well as the human and sheep versions, called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and scrapie, respectively – are highly resistant to degradation, says Dr. Jason Shih, professor of biotechnology and poultry science at NC State. But the new research, which tested the effects of a bacterial enzyme keratinase on brain tissues from cows with BSE and sheep with scrapie, showed that, when the tissue was pretreated and in the presence of a detergent, the enzyme fully degraded the prion, rendering it undetectable.

The research was published in the Dec. 1 edition of The Journal of Infectious Diseases.


Shih’s colleagues in the research study included first author Jan Langeveld, Dick Van de Wiel, Jan Garssen and Alex Bossers from the Central Institute for Animal Disease Control in Lelystad, The Netherlands; and Giles Shih and Jeng-Jie Wang from BioResource International, which is located on NC State’s Centennial Campus.

The researchers now plan another study to test the effectiveness of the enzyme on the treated BSE prions in mice. The two-year study begins in January 2004 and is funded with $190,000 from the National Cattleman’s Beef Association.

“Our work has been done in vitro, or in test tubes, and we’ve reduced the prion to undetectable levels,” Jason Shih says. “Our work with mice will show whether these undetectable levels of prion are indeed non-infectious.”

Jason Shih will also test keratinase’s effectiveness in decontaminating equipment that processes animal by-products. Many scientists believe that mad cow disease is spread by healthy animals eating feed containing by-products from BSE-infected animals. Using keratinase to gobble up harmful prions on the processing equipment would go a long way in reducing the risk of spreading BSEs like mad cow disease, Shih believes.

This study to optimize the degradation process is funded for two years with $180,000 from the Food and Drug Administration. Shih says in lieu of using actual BSE materials, which are quite dangerous to work with, researchers will use a surrogate protein produced from yeast that has similar physical and chemical properties, but is non-pathogenic.

Shih hit upon the idea of using keratinase to degrade prions based on his more than two decades of work as a poultry scientist looking for ways to manage poultry waste. He discovered that a bacteria, Bacillus licheniformis strain PWD-1, could degrade chicken feathers. Shih isolated and characterized the bacterial enzyme keratinase, and then isolated and sequenced the gene that encodes keratinase. By fermentation technology, he was able to develop a way to produce mass quantities of the enzyme, and did studies that proved many valuable applications of the enzyme.

Shih found that keratinase can be added to chicken feed to increase digestibility and the efficiency of the feed; that is, chickens who eat feed with the enzyme grow to optimal weight quicker and need less feed to grow to that optimal weight. The enzyme thus can provide the same benefit in feed that antibiotics currently provide. Animal producers are looking for safer substitutes to antibiotics, and Shih believes that keratinase can serve that purpose.

Soon, it will become clear whether keratinase can also help prevent mad cow and other harmful diseases caused by prions.

Mick Kulikowski, | NC State University
Further information:
http://www.ncsu.edu/news/press_releases/04_01/001.htm

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Asian dust providing key nutrients for California's giant sequoias
28.03.2017 | University of California - Riverside

nachricht Chlamydia: How bacteria take over control
28.03.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers create artificial materials atom-by-atom

28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers show p300 protein may suppress leukemia in MDS patients

28.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

Asian dust providing key nutrients for California's giant sequoias

28.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>