Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Resistant prions

13.08.2008
Prions, the pathogens that cause scrapie in sheep, can survive in the ground for several years, as researchers have discovered. Animals can become infected via contaminated pastures. It is not yet known whether the pathogens that cause BSE and CWD are equally resistant

A flock of sheep at pasture – a seemingly idyllic scene. But appearances can be deceptive: If the animals are suffering from scrapie, entire flocks may perish. Scrapie is an infectious disease in which prions destroy the animal’s brain, rather like BSE. The brain becomes porous, the sheep lose their orientation, they suffer from strong itching sensations and scrape off their fleece. Eventually, the infected animals die.

It is difficult to contain the disease – all too often, scrapie will break out again on the same farm several months or years after it has apparently been eradicated. Are the prions transmitted not only by direct contact, but also by the environment – perhaps by the pastures? How long do prions that get into the pasture via the saliva and excrements of the sick animals, persist in the ground?

Together with fellow-scientists from the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin and the Friedrich Loeffler Institute (Federal Research Institute for Animal Health) on the island of Riems, research scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME in Schmallenberg investigated these questions on behalf of the German Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety BMU. “We mixed soil samples with scrapie pathogens to find out how long the pathogens would survive,” says Dr. Björn Seidel, who headed the investigations at IME. “Even after 29 months, in other words more than two years, we were still able to detect prions in the soil.”

But are these prions still infectious? “The soil actually seems to increase the infectiousness of the pathogens. The incubation period – the time it takes for the disease to break out – is exceedingly short even after the prions have persisted in the soil for 29 months. All of the animals that were given contaminated soil became sick within a very short time. These results indicate that fresh incidences of scrapie among sheep are due to contaminated pastures,” says Seidel in summary. The results of the study reveal that sheep may even become infected from the surface water, though the risk of infection is much lower in this case. There is no danger to humans, however: scrapie pathogens seem unable to affect them.

Another cause for concern is chronic wasting disease (CWD). Like BSE and scrapie, this is caused by prions, but it mainly affects deer. The numbers of infected animals in North America are rising steeply. How long do BSE and CWD prions survive in the ground? “To find this out, we urgently need to carry out further tests. The appropriate research applications have already been submitted,” says Seidel.

| alfa
Further information:
http://www.fraunhofer.de
http://www.fraunhofer.de/EN/press/pi/2008/08/ResearchNews082008Topic1.jsp

Further reports about: BSE CWD Scrapie Soil chronic wasting disease incubation period pathogens prions scrapie pathogens sheep

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 >>>