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Prions? CJD/BSE Connection...

Nigel Kenward mbxnjk at vax.nott.ac.uk
Thu Apr 4 05:34:25 EST 1996

Hi Ken,
Most of what you say is true !
I have now worked on prions for 5 years and can tell you the following:
1. Cooking (even autoclaving) doesn't "kill" prions
2. The G.I. tract is a very poor way to infect animals with prions - perhaps stomach acids, 
enzymes and pH combined do screw up the PrP (combined decontamination methods (e.g. high 
chlorine levels, followed by autoclaving or rinsing in a concenbtrated detergent seem to work 
reasonably well in combination)
3. The 'species barrier' exists - basically sheep are far more susceptible to prion-infected 
sheep tissue than they would be to say prion infected mink material therefore humans are 
PROBABLY more resistant to infected cow than to CJD brain (were they to eat it !).
4. Prions are not necessarily the whole story. At the moment the evidence suggests that it is 
the 3D structure of the PrP that leads to the disease, but it isn't yet a water-tight 
argument - co-factors ? Processing enzymes ? etc etc
5. There is a rolke for genetic susceptibility. In sheep it has been seen that sheep with a 
particular mutation at one codon are more susceptible than others without the mutation.
6. This is one of the last mysteriesis biology. First everyone said it was DNA -> RNA -> 
Protein, then came reverse transcription (RNA->DNA->RNA->Protein) and now comes prions 
Protein->protein ->protein -> disease (?).

There's lots more to tell, I am happy to reply to specific questions - hopefully I can give a 
frank honest reply - I don't work for any government and I'm not a self-publicist like a 
certain UK prefessor of microbiology or an ex-employed electron microscopist. (they'll know 
who they are ! and both should be ashamed of causing worry to people who can't get to the 
full literature, just to get their names known).

Sorry Ken, The subject is a bit hot here in the UK (as you can imagine). I don't mind 
scientists giving informed views which are honest and accurate, and if I can help you at all, 
please get in touch.
Best Wishes,
            ____     ___
|\   |  |  /    \   /     |         NIGEL KENWARD,
| \  |  | |   ___  |__    |         Dept. Biochemistry,
|  \ |  | |     |  |      |         Nottingham University Medical School.
|   \|  |  \____/   \___  |___      Clifton Boulevard.
-------------------------------     Nottingham. NG7 2UH.
 Tel (0115 924 9924) ext 44789      Fax (0115 942 2225)
  email:mbxnjk at vax.nott.ac.uk      "You can tell me.......I'm a doctor"

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