UK scientists discover a clue to treating diseases like ‘mad cow’

University of Kentucky scientists may be a step closer to finding a way to treat diseases related to prion proteins, including bovine spongiform encephalitis, or mad-cow disease. They’ve learned that plasminogen, a protein used to bust blood clots in the body, increases the speed at which prion diseases progress.

“Since prion diseases can lay undetected for decades, delaying the ability of the disease-associated prion protein to replicate by targeting the cofactor of the process could be a monumental implication for treatment,” said Chongsuk Ryou, right, senior author of the study.

Prion diseases are rare, fatal diseases characterized by oddly-shaped protein molecules in the brain. Besides mad-cow, they include Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans; scrapie in sheep; and chronic wasting disease in deer and elk, UK’s news source UKNow reports. The study was published by the Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology in the December issue of The FASEB Journal.

Scientists used test tube reactions to multiply disease-associated proteins, UKNow reports. The reactions were done with and without plasminogen present. “By showing how prions hijack our own clot-busting machinery, this work points to a new target for anti-prion therapy,” said Dr. Gerald Weissman, editor-in-chief of the journal. (Read more)

Previous Article
Next Article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *