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Prion transmissibility

Jonas.Blomberg at alinks.se Jonas.Blomberg at alinks.se
Fri Jul 14 05:50:25 EST 1995

Dear Bionet Virology and Ian York,

I have some comments on prion transmissibility.

1. Let us not deteriorate into alarmism, in this or similar issues.
 (Not that Ian York is alarmist. On the contrary I have enjoyed his 
 knowledgeable and factual entries.)

2. Blood transmission: Knowing that Creutzfeld-Jacob disease is so rare (1 per 
million) transmission via blood transfusion cannot be common.

3. The infectiosity of prions has at least one strange property: The extreme 
stability to heat. Carleton Gajdusek has shown that some infectiosity remains 
after heating at temperatures close to what leads to pyrolysis of proteins. 
This reminds me of the story of polywater.

If the normal variant of the prion protein with a low probability spontaneously 
can assume a pathogenic conformation, how come that this conformation is stable 
under the extreme conditions Gajdusek used?

To me, this suggests that the pathogenic conformation is stabilized by specific 
posttranslational modifications like glycosylation.

If anyone has an explanation, please enlighten me.


*************< Jonas.Blomberg at alinks.se >************
 Jonas Blomberg, M.D., Ph.D.
 Dept. Medical Microbiology (division Virology)
 University of Lund
 Solvegatan 23
 S-223 62 Lund, Sweden

 Voice: +46-46-173275 (office) +46-40-412653 (home)
 Fax:   +46-46-189117 (office) +46-40-411165 (home)
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