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 How gut bacteria can make us ill
18.01.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

nachricht Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs
16.01.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How gut bacteria can make us ill

18.01.2017 | Life Sciences

On track to heal leukaemia

18.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle

17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>