Download Fatal Flaws: How a Misfolded Protein Baffled Scientists and by Jay Ingram PDF

By Jay Ingram

Discovered and pointed out because the reason behind mad cow affliction in simple terms 3 a long time in the past, the prion is a protein molecule that, whilst misshapen within the mind, turns into deadly. Novel and debatable, prions have provoked a systematic revolution. They problem the very foundations of biology: A disease-causing entity with out genetic fabric at all? A molecule able to infecting, multiplying, and killing? This ebook recounts the birth of prion technological know-how and the innovative detective paintings scientists have undertaken as they struggle to discover the solutions to devastating mind illnesses from mad cow and Creutzfeldt-Jakob affliction to Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Lou Gehrig’s, and others.
As in each one of his best-selling books, Jay Ingram the following makes advanced medical suggestions available and exhibits how little-known occasions could have profound importance. He describes the improvement of prion technological know-how as a rough-and-tumble affair, with opponents, eccentrics, interfering governments, and brilliantly artistic humans all enjoying salient roles. Weaving biology, drugs, human tragedy, discovery, and sour clinical pageant into his account, he finds the beautiful strength of prion technology, whose discoveries may perhaps free up the solutions to a couple of humankind’s so much damaging diseases.

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Additional resources for Fatal Flaws: How a Misfolded Protein Baffled Scientists and Changed the Way We Look at the Brain

Sample text

By the time Gajdusek and others had started their investigations, the disease had become a threat to the very existence of the Fore: as many as two hundred people were dying of it every year in the late 1950s. Its impact was exaggerated by the fact that it was selective in its targets. Women and children of both sexes were vulnerable, adult men much less so. As a result, widowed men and motherless children were becoming more and more common. The cause was not at all obvious, and Gajdusek and those who worked with him had to throw their diagnostic net as wide as possible.

For instance, if a man or boy died, his brain belonged to his sister; a woman’s brain belonged to her son’s or brother’s wife. Even with knowledge of all this, investigators were skeptical that cannibalism might be spreading kuru. For one thing, the Fore apparently weren’t the only cannibals in New Guinea, yet they were definitely the only group succumbing to kuru. So what fatal flaw set them apart? More important, for cannibalism to be accepted as playing the key role in the spread of kuru, there had to be something for it to spread, an infectious agent of some kind.

So the understanding of scrapie was progressing as you’d expect: slowly, unsteadily, hampered by the fact that what knowledge there was of a possible infectious agent was scant and mysterious. Then a seemingly random and inauspicious event intervened and the picture changed forever. It was June 28, 1959. A colleague of Hadlow’s, William Jellison, came for a visit from the United States. The previous day, Jellison had been in London, where he had gone to a medical exhibit at the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum.

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