Thursday, July 29, 2004

Somethings Are Better Left Unknown
California scientists say they have created the first synthetic version of a rogue protein called a prion and used it to give mice a brain-destroying infection, evidence important to settling any lingering doubt these mysterious substances alone cause mad cow disease and similar illnesses.[Nitpicker emphasis]
I became acquainted with prion research early on through a good friend in grad school who was (and is) into that whole protein folding thing. It seems to me that most doubts about the causal link between prions and mad cow disease (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans) had already been diminshed - at least in the protein biochemistry field. Something tells me though, that the general public would rather have lingering doubts about this relationship than the knowledge that someone has successfully synthesized prions. Talk about a potent form of bioterrorism - and many people get upset about genetically modified crops that don't even have any potential for that use.


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