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Do Prions Exist?

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  • Do Prions Exist?

    Introduction
    What are prions? The name prion was coined in 1981 by Dr. Stanley Prusiner to identify the agents that cause a novel type of fatal brain diseases. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or mad cow disease), sheep scrapie and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) of humans are examples of prion diseases. In this essay, I will use the term prion instead of agent to denote the infectious particle that causes these diseases. The "protein-only" hypothesis is a controversial hypothesis that describes what prions are and how they reproduce. The discussion that follows is necessarily limited to only the most important evidence in support of the protein-only hypothesis due to space limitations.
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