Multiple System Atrophy (MSA)

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A newly discovered type of prion an aberrant protein implicated in the transmission of progressive neurodegenerative diseases like mad cow disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease has been linked to the development of a rare but fatal brain disease called Multiple System Atrophy (MSA). This has the potential to force us to rethink the way we conceive of our relation to the environment, particularly when it comes to our diets.


MSA is a neurodegenerative illness that progressively attacks the autonomic nervous system, hampering involuntary body functions like breathing and digestion, as well as voluntary movements. When cells in the brain and spinal cord lose their functions and die, they lead to symptoms characteristic of the disease: fainting spells, abnormal heart rate, muscle tremors, rigidity and difficulty with speech. Symptoms tend to appear around 50 years of age, and worsen rapidly leading to incapacitation and eventual death due to respiratory or cardiac issues. Though it is a rare disease affecting 15,000-50,000 Americans, it has no cure and its cause is unknown. It shares a lot of its symptoms with Parkinson’s disease, which further confounds diagnosis.
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These can then infect other PrP molecules, causing them to misfold, thereby propagating the loss of function. Prions have the distinctive ability to form sticky patches on the brain, eventually killing off healthy cells. The authors of the study recommend extreme caution and stringent safety protocols when dealing with patients with prion disorders. Since proteins, unlike viruses or bacteria, cannot be disinfected by common sterilization regimens, usage of different surgical equipment for prion diseases and other neurodegenerative conditions is highly
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