THE PRION DISEASES: FROM THE MAD COWS TO DEAD HUMANS

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COULD BE  A NEURODEGENERATIVE DISORDER  INDICATOR A PERFECT BIOLOGICAL WEAPON ?

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Just two days ago, the medical writer from the American Council on Science and Health, Steve Schow wrote the warning article about the growing danger from the prion diseases. The informative writing had a purpose to make people think more what they eat and how they get that what they eat. The prions diseases are dangerous not only for humans but also for  the animals because of the zoonotic nature  and the channel of transmission through the consuming the final product:meat (i.g.BSE)

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It is very useful to keep in mind that prions diseases are very rare progressive neurodegenerative disorders that occur through the long incubation period and the process known as spongiform or Swiss cheese form. That could be illustrated by the rhythm of changes in the brain and spinal cord areas which stop the inflammatory response and cause in 100% of cases the fatal end.

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The term prion must be understood before any further description  of the prion diseases because this term is a crucial in our story. According to the CDC, prions are abnormal and pathogenic agents that are able to defect the functions of normal cellular proteins, known as prion proteins and mostly located in the brain zone. The main problem for the modern medicine is the lack of real and effective knowledge regarding the neurological issues and especially  the role of prion proteins in the brain system of inputs and outputs. What science recognizes is the degenerative results of the unlimited  folding of the prion proteins that indicates the severe brain damages.

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How they appear to be the problem of our health nowadays?They have been known as the part of zoonotic diseases for centuries, it is enough to recall the memories on BSE, as the bovine spongiform encephalopathy that affects cattles,  Chronic Wasting Disease (elk) and Scrapie disease (sheep and goats). The human version is relatively new one, since 1920s and also famous as Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease,Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease,Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker Syndrome, Fatal Familial Insomnia, and Kuru. Each of them has an unique set of symptoms but only expert is capable to define the small textures of differences and to categorize them in the right way.

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What i found very impressive is the fact that prions could form sporadic  themselves through the years and be transferred genetically from one generation to another , something like a genetic code of curse. The above mentioned author comes out with the following:“Prions are simple proteins that occur in the brain and serve an undetermined function. They cause disease by becoming misfolded, by coming into contact with an external source of misfolded protein, as a result of a spontaneous misfolding event or as a consequence of a hereditary misfolding liability (mutations). The initial misfolded prion catalyzes the transformation of native prions into misfolded forms which cannot be cleared and begin to clump together (aggregate), eventually leading to neuronal death – death by misshapen protein. Misfolded prions are the simplest infectious agents. They differ from a toxin in that they are transmissible. Theoretically, one misfolded prion can lead to disease and death. Originally named a slow virus infection because of its decades long incubation period. It was assumed that the simplest communicable disease agent was a virus which contained either RNA or DNA as a central dogma for replication. Studies originating in the 60s and culminating in the 80s identified an aberrant protein as the causative and transmissible agent (for which a second Nobel Prize for this disease was awarded)”         

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Once, after the patient is diagnosed with the prion disease, the infectious prions destroy the body of the patient but they are not infectious to the others around. That is not a typical virus or bacteria that jump from one to the next host, it is more like an autoimmune destruction of the organism. The body is directed to work against itself, the similar what is happening in the process of many autoimmune diseases and even cancer. The existing protein shema is defected by the abnormal activity of the prions proteins attacked by toxic prions.

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This type of disease maybe doesn’t sound  so infectious and with pandemic character like very well known Ebola virus or Marburg, but the reality is latent dangerous. This is the silent  but not so naive killer. The range of health demolition that prion disease bring is wide and complete. It could go in many dimensions. Take a look into the terrible events in late 80s and 90s in the beef industry of the UK, hit by BSE and the people who have been infected through the human form of the same disease. It was really disturbing to see how fast can go the infection chain from the polluted meat to the serious human diseases. The contamination was total and the consequences were beyond the imaginable. The ability to use these prions as a possible biological agents in some of the cultivated forms of attack is high and must be considered through the issue of even agro terrorist attack. If some terrorist attack some state’s meat industry, the damage is not only the ecological and medical but also the economical. The sanitation wouldn’t be so effective and no one could claim it is 100% successful as the prion disease  attack is.

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The advanced level of genetic research  let us experiment with the prions and turn them into the living molecular sharks that will target human or animal population of the addressed subject. That is why I always suggest that the meat industry and the animal population must be replaced with the vegetarian attempts. First, it doesn’t cost so much as the livestock. Second, it is ethic and doesn’t keep us into the risk from being affected with so many diseases that naturally come from animal meat and animals at all.

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The nature will be more and more aggressive with each step of the greedy mankind. We polluted the whole world . We killed so many species without any regret. Now, we are killing each others with the autoimmune diseases. Karma is the righteous and will serve us what we deserve.

3 thoughts on “THE PRION DISEASES: FROM THE MAD COWS TO DEAD HUMANS”

  1. Thank you so much, Sarah, for yet another very enlightening article!

    You have brought to light, through your article, the lurking and latent danger of the prion disease! As you very well describe it, herein, this disease can remain dormant for decades before erupting!

    Your closing argument summarizes what we, humans, need to do before it’s too late! In other words, the trend towards vegetarianism and veganism is the correct one and is in the right direction!

    So many diseases are ascribed to the consumption of animal meat and animal products including, but not limited to, heart disease, and cancer !

    I hope the world is reading and listening!
    Thank you, Sarah, for your comprehensive research, enlightening articles, and well-organized presentation!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sarah’s informative and exceedingly relative article brought to mind the paradox of the vicious circle of medical research scientists using animals to manifest cures for such entities as Prion disease. For example, in a 2015 scientific study, led by Adriano Aguzzi, Professor of Neurobiology at The University of Zurich, in Switzerland, found that when they injected mice with a prion disease and then with polythiophenes, the mice survived 80% longer than the control mice that were only injected with the prion disease.

    Worldwide, it is estimated that the number of vertebrate animals (from zebrafish to non-human primates) ranges from the tens of millions to more than 100 million used annually. In The United States of America, official statistics indicate that 1 million plus vertebrates were used in research in 2016. In The European Union, these species represent 93% of animals used in research. One estimate of mice and rats used in 2016 was 150 million plus in 2016, in North America. Mice, rats, fish, amphibians and reptiles together account for over 85% of research animals, in First World universities and research centres.

    Supporters of the use of animals in experiments (e.g. The Royal Society in London) argue that virtually every medical achievement of the 20th century relied on the use of animals in some way. The Institute for Laboratory Animal Research of the US-National Academy of Sciences has argued that animal research cannot be replaced by even sophisticated computer models; which are unable to deal with the extremely complex interactions between molecules, cells, tissues, organs, organisms and the environment.

    Animal rights activists question the need for and legitimacy of animal testing; arguing that it is cruel and poorly regulated, that medical progress is actually held back by misleading animal models that cannot reliably predict effects in humans, that some of the tests are outdated, that the costs outweigh the benefits, or that animals have the intrinsic right not to be used or harmed in experimentation.

    Alternatives to animal testing are the development and implementation of test methods that avoid the use of live animals. There is increasing First World agreement that a reduction in the number of animals used and the refinement of testing to reduce suffering should be important objectives for the industries involved. Two major alternatives to in vivo animal testing are in vitro cell culture techniques and in silico computer simulation.

    However, some claim they are not true alternatives because simulations use data from prior animal experiments and cell cultures often require animal derived products; such as serum or cells. Others say that they cannot replace animals completely as they are unlikely to ever provide enough information about the complex interactions of living systems.

    Other alternatives include the use of humans for skin irritant tests and donated human blood for pyrogenicity studies. Another alternative is so-called microdosing, in which the basic behaviour of pharmaceuticals is assessed using human volunteers receiving doses well below those expected to produce whole-body effects. While microdosing produces important information about pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, it does not reveal information about toxicity or toxicology. Furthermore, it was noted by The Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments that, despite the use of microdosing, ‘animal studies will still be required’.

    Are humans worthy of life on Earth? Are humans worth preserving the way they live (i.e. via lifestyles that destroy the very biodiversity requisite to sustain their organic tellurian existences)? In 1781, there was a pivotal law case in England that forced the public debate of what the value of a human being is: it was based upon the infamous Zong massacre (i.e. Atlantic slave traders threw over board their human cargo from Africa headed for The Americas). What is the value of a river, a tree or an animal?

    I am optimistic that Nature will reclaim planet Earth and cleanse itself of the entire history of Homo sapiens: only our celestial junk (e.g. satellites) will survive us, in all probability. Yes, we have created vaccines and cures for ourselves, but we have not evolved from our primordial swamp behaviours… Microorganisms may furnish the future with replications of us, as biological entities, but does the Earth deserve another species like us? The Earth does not need us, but we need it!

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  3. An excellent, well-written, and informative article Sarah. I agree very much with your closing statement that the Mad Cow disease is the result of our greedy and selfishness. Thank you so very much.

    Like

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