Researchers at NYU School of Medicine have found that immunization prolongs the incubation period for prion diseases such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and may have therapeutic value for other neurodegenerative illness such as Alzheimer’s disease. Prion disease is a fatal brain disease manifested through failure of muscle control and dementia. Forms of this disease have been discovered in deer and elk (chronic wasting disease), in cows (bovine spongiform encephalopathy ? BSE ? or “mad cow disease”) and in sheep (scrapie strain).
Researchers say they’ve developed a new test for prions that improves the accuracy and speed with which the malformed and infectious proteins can be detected. Prions cause neurodegenerative diseases in sheep, deer and elk, plus Mad Cow disease in cattle and Creutzfeldt-Jakob in humans.
Researchers may have discovered the mechanism behind how prions ? pieces of protein molecules? can kill nerve cells in the brain and lead to some serious degenerative diseases. The key seems to lie in how one particular protein misfolds within an organelle inside the cell, transforming itself into a new agent and then poisoning the neuron in which it was made.