Living virus?

Brian M Burkhart burkhart at hwi.buffalo.edu
Wed Sep 2 16:28:50 EST 1998

Stefanie Greve wrote:

> What do you think might be an appropriate definition of life? The mere
> existence of DNA or rather small Macromolecules as in Prions?

Prions are not alive. They are a toxic substance produced in certain organisms under specialized conditions.
They are more of a toxin than anything else.  They exhibit their toxic activity by converting a naturllay
occurring protein into a malfolded, toxic one through template driven assembly.  Viruses in many ways are
similar.  Viruses appear to be 'escaped' genes that find a way to reproduce.  So maybe prions are escaped
proteins that find a way to reproduce.


Brian M Burkhart, Ph.D.
Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute
73 High Street Buffalo, NY 14203
Phone: (716)856-9600 x313  FAX: (716)852-6086

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