History of Prions

1512 Words7 Pages
History of Prions Prions are abnormally folding proteins causing neurological symptoms and always leading to death. This disease can be transmitted to any species, however there is a species barrier associated with it. Kuru was first discovered in the Fore tribe located in Papua, New Guinea. The cause was later identified as the ritualistic cannibalism that took place in this tribe. Scientists studied this disease for centuries, revealing that this disease was neither caused by a virus nor an infection. Kuru has been almost completely eradicated since the diminish of cannibalism. Gaping holes suddenly appear in your brain with no obvious explanation. The Cause of this complex and horrifying symptom remained a mystery for centuries.…show more content…
Brain extracts from sheep that were infected with Scrapie infected healthy sheep after a five-month incubation period. W hen this same extract was inoculated into a goat, the incubation period lasted about twenty-three months. When the inoculums from these goats were injected into others, the incubation dropped down to eight months. It didn’t take scientists long to realize that there was a species barrier associated with Kuru. (Wickner, 12) During the 1920s, doctors Hans Gerhard Creutzfeldt and Alfons Maria Jakob began researching a new fatal disease of which holes in the brain was a major symptom. By the 1960s, another version of this complex disease was seen in a New Guinean tribe who consumed the major organs of deceased relatives during religious rituals. Children in this tribe were also fed large amounts of brain because it was considered a growth food, which would give a child wisdom. Male adolescents usually left home around the age of six to eight, lessening their exposure to this disease. Although the normal incubation period for prions may exceed fifty years, the incubation period for the young girls in this tribe was significantly shorter; as little as four years or less. These girls were subject to a great amount of exposure to this disease while preparing ritualistic meals and consuming infectious brain tissue, both of which are methods of prion transmission, consequently, females had a substantially higher chance of contracting this disease.
Open Document