02 May 2012

Prion Rising!

I don't know about you, but variant Creutzfeld-Jacob disease scares the bejesus outta me.  This is the disease that is caused by the the same prion that causes Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, aka: Mad Cow Disease!

See, what this prion does (caveat: I am not a scientist, but I subscribe to the advice, "Know thy enemy," and this is definitely NOT my friend) is replicate like mad.  Let me rephrase: They SELF-replicate.  This is too much for me to try to write about without copying too much from here.  So, you should probably read it for yourself.
Prions, more than just brain rot. | biobabel
Here in the UK, we don’t need reminding about the horrific consequences of transmissable spongiform encephalopathies. Over one hundred and fifty britons have died of variant Creutzfeld-Jacob disease, and the images of cattle suffering the effects of BSE (and ministers feeding their daughters burgers) are still fresh in the mind.
VCJD is like science fiction that is not fiction.  I think I would much rather be attacked by the alien creature from the eponymous film, than have the slow, excruciating, horrific death by this little prion.  It, for all intents and purposes, turns the brain into a sponge and melts it.  "In the brain, the prions form toxic aggregations, causing neurodegeneration and death."

Anyway, it sounds like these scientists are using this scary little thing to learn about evolution and the way the brain degenerates in other neurodegenerative diseases.  It, again, reminds me of Alien, in that some of the crew wanted to bring the nasty thing home to study it.  That is until it killed them all....

Well, all except Ripley, the only smart one in the bunch.

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