A research team at the University of Navarre has detected the presence of the prion protein in the digestive tract of three animal species: the autochthonous Pyrennean cow, in a primate and in rats. This study is the first to describe the exact location of the “healthy” form of the prion (PrPc), a protein necessary for the development of prionic diseases in these three species.
The results obtained by the Navarre researchers provide new data on the propagation of the prion and on the development of encephalopathies through the ingestion of contaminated food. It is important to underline that these discoveries could be extrapolated to other species, including the human.
As is known, the majority of cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) detected in Navarre province in the 2001-2004 period correspond to the Pyrennean cow breed. The pathogen prion, PrPsc, is the cause of the mad cow disease. The research into prions is still scant, although it intensified as a result of the mad cow problem.
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