Essay by Joe4High School, 11th gradeA+, September 1996

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Report on Prions based on some articles. Excellent.


Prions have been a mistery for scientists from the day they where discovered. Prions act like viruses but they are not. Their structure and chemistry are unknown. They are believed to be proteins but that is yet to be completely proved.

Prion stands for "proteinaceous infectious particles". Prions are known to cause many diseases involved with nervous systems like the brain. They are the ones that cause the well known " mad cow " disesase in Britain and "scrapie" for animals. For humans they are known to cause a rare disease in Papua New Guinea called Kuru ( or "laughing death") which striked only the cannibals in the Highlander tribes. Investigation led to the discovery of prions inside the of the victims brains that were eaten by the tribesmen that when they died, as a sign of respect their brains where eaten and the chain went on and on.

The thing that makes prions so special is the fact that they lack the basic elements for reproduction, deoxyribonucleic acid and ribonucleic acid DNA and RNA respectively. This is what has given science a great deal of doubt as this would give the dogma of the beginning of live a radical turn.

Prions have been in research for many years with experiments like the one done by Stanley B. Pruiser and his team of scientists at the School of Medicine of the University of California at San Francisco in which a study was carried out on mice to see if he was able to purify the scrapie agent ,another prion disease, in mice. But mice as humans took very long to develope the disease, for example Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker disease or fatal familial insomnia, which appear mostly on humans which have passed the age...