Mad Cows and Molecular Biology

Troels Wind wind at
Mon Apr 1 09:59:03 EST 1996

Alexander Berezin (berezin at MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA) wrote:

: These days press carries many stories on
: the Mad Cows desease. In today's story I have 
: read that Dr. Stanley Prusiner came up with
: an idea of prions (having no genes) quite
: a while ago, but was ignored by the 
: sceintific establishemnt.

: Why ? - Because 'Molecular Biology knows
: ALREADY that no life form can exist 
: without DNA/RNA, and, beside, such ideas 
: are nonsense anyway,', etc, etc.

: If the above is true, this is a classic example 
: of how the dominant paradigm-in-fashion [ this 
: time - Molecular Biology ] paralizes, disdains and 
: eradicates all alternative viewpoints and ideas. 


: Alex Berezin  

Hi Alex,

I'm no expert on the subject of prions and I dont know if Prusiner was 
flamed by his colleques, but from what I hear, the theory of prions is
widely accepted these days. In short, prions are proteins (no DNA/RNA)
capable of transmitting diseaese by a mechanism believed to include
misfolding of a host protein catalysed by the prion. This misfolded 
protein will know be a prion itself, and the cascade can begin. I
dont remenber the name of this host-protein, but I'm pretty sure
it has been identified.

There are many examples throughout the history of science that a
'ruling' paradigm has blinded parts of the research community,
whether the prion-story is one of them I dont know...

Anyway, the press loves prions, so I'd say we can expect plenty
of misleading info in the future from the media.


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