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Airborne Prions Prove Lethal In Mouse Studies 116

sgunhouse writes "Wired has a story up on the lethality of airborne prions. It should be noted that prions (which cause 'mad cow disease' and similar disorders) are not normally airborne, and take a long time to kill the infected animal, but so far are 100% lethal if something else doesn't kill the animal first. So, they are not likely to be useful as a biological weapon (my first thought when reading their headline), but they present another safety precaution to consider."
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Airborne Prions Prove Lethal In Mouse Studies

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  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @07:46PM (#34885234) Journal
    Prions are strange in the sense, they are almost on the dividing line between living and non living. They have no DNA/RNA, no need to breath or even to eat, but they replicate that makes them different from venom and poison. How long do the exist in prion form left to themselves I wonder. Can they exist in some dried powder form forever? Or do they spontaneously disintegrate into constituent compounds?

    Leather tanning industry has some really weird mix of chemicals and some of them involve brain matter. Hope the left over prions on the leather jackets degrade or wear off.

  • by Yergle143 ( 848772 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @08:04PM (#34885408)

    Wow. Those genetically modified mice "tga20 transgenic mice overexpressing PrPC" bred to be hyper-susceptible seem to be highly susceptible. After 15+ years of this "ice 9" business I'm still waiting for results that in any way meet Koch's Postulates. Oh yeah, let's stop calling this protein "prion" and start calling it a proteinaceous "toxin" which is what it is. Moreover, since this Nobel Prize winning hypothesis in no way seems to conform with the reality of widely spreading communicable encephalitis in sheep, beef and mule deer why not entertain the notion that this is a slow virus and that the symptomatic misfolded protein is a mere phenotype, possibly detrimental, but not causal. Oh yeah, figuring this out would mean working with big smelly farm animals and we prion people don't like to get dirty.
    Meanwhile Laura Manuelidis is fighting the good fight against overwhelming odds. []

  • Who the F^-* ?? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gr8_phk ( 621180 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @08:17PM (#34885518)
    Who would even do an experiment with such things?
  • Re:Who the F^-* ?? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, 2011 @09:48PM (#34886186)

    Who would even do an experiment with such things?

    People who then know more than those that don't bother checking. Tribes with this characteristic are thought to optimize their use of limit resources slightly over people who would never think to check for themselves.

    One could call them ... winners.

The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable. -- John Kenneth Galbraith