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How to Treat Prion Diseases Abstract Scientists are stumped as to the development and nature of proteinaceous infectious particles. Neither virus nor bacteria, these prions, are believed to cause transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE), rare diseases said to be 100% fatal, without possessing nucleic acids. Their unhindered growth is thought to be the cause for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or Mad Cow Disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob (CJD), scrapie and other TSE, diseases characterized by the brain microscopically turning into sponge-like matter. There are no cures or effective treatments available today because drawbacks constantly prevent the development of efficient therapy. Studies continue to slowly progress, hoping to find methods to immunize against more prion diseases.
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The Effects of Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies on Humans Abstract Humans have to deal with many different diseases and the ones most disliked are the ones with no cures. Like cancer, transmissible spongiform encephalopathies have no cure, but they are more rare. These diseases are prion diseases which cause the brain to deteriorate. Prions are proteins that sometimes behave like viruses, which mean that they should have some form of nucleic acid, but since they don’t, they cause abnormalities. The nervous system contains many normal prions, but when an abnormal prion comes along, it transforms all the normal prions into abnormal ones.
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Once infectious prions enter the central nervous system, it causes impaired brain function that leads to problems such as dementia and abnormal movements (Genetics Home Reference, 2014). A prion protein, PrP, is a glycoprotein that is membrane-anchored in neural tissue. The functions of normal prion proteins are unknown, but it is known that the misfolding of prions is fatal. The normal prion, PrPC, can undergo a conformational change to form the infectious, misfolded prion, PrPSc (Chiesa & Harris, 2009). The cause of this conformational change is from a mutation in the gene, Prnp, that is used to make PrP.