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Prions May Develop Drug Resistance: The Implications for Mad Cow, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

The brain of a patient with Creutzfeldt-Jakob shows signs of neurodegeneration and the presence of  large clumps of prion protein (purple). Courtesy of Lary Walker.

Clumps of proteins twisted into aberrant shapes cause the prion diseases that have perplexed biologists for decades. The surprises just keep coming with a new report that the simple clusters of proteins responsible for Mad Cow and other prions diseases may, without help from DNA or RNA, be capable of changing form to escape the [...]

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Beef from Former Mad Cow Epicenter Could Hit U.S. Shelves This Year

american cuts of beef diagram

  After nearly 16 years, the U.S. has agreed to import beef from Ireland—the first European country to get the go-ahead since the epidemic of mad cow disease swept the continent In the 1980s and 1990s. The move—which may extend to the rest of the British Isles later this year—serves as a milestone in the [...]

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The 4th U.S. Case of Mad Cow Disease: Should You Be Concerned?

beef on a plate in the shape of a question mark

On April 24, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported the fourth confirmed case of mad cow disease in the U.S., the first since 2006. In an official statement, the department’s chief veterinary officer John Clifford said that the animal (a dairy cow from central California), “was never presented for slaughter for human consumption, so at [...]

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Natural Born Prion Killers: Lichens Degrade “Mad Cow” Related Brain Pathogen


Remember mad cow disease? In the 1980s, cattle in the U.K. had begun contracting a fatal brain ailment triggered by an infectious protein called a prion. The pathogen could spread to humans who ate contaminated beef. Officials brought the bovine epidemic under control with major changes in agricultural practices. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said [...]

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Bad prion breath: Mad cow disease agent can infect via the air

As if it weren’t bad enough that deadly prions can survive boiling and radiation, now comes word that aerosolized forms of the pathogen can enter the nose and find their way to the brain, with fatal consequences.   Prions, you may recall, were the reason you avoided beef in Europe in the 1990s. They triggered [...]

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