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Human prion diseases 

Human prion diseases
Chapter:
Human prion diseases
Author(s):

Simon Mead

, and R.G. Will

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198746690.003.0599
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date: 07 March 2021

Prion protein (for proteinacious infectious particle) is a membrane-associated glycoprotein present in all mammalian species. Its normal function is unknown, but in prion diseases (also known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies) a misfolded polymer form of the protein, partially resistant to protease digestion, is deposited in the brain and associated—typically after long incubation periods—with neuronal dysfunction and death. Prion diseases have become the subject of intense scientific and public interest because they are caused by a biologically distinct disease mechanism and because of the implications for public health following the identification of a new human prion disease, variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (vCJD), and the evidence that it is caused by the transmission to humans of a cattle prion disease, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

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