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Synthetic Brain-Destroying Human Prions Created in the Lab for the First Time

Researchers from Case Western Reserve University have synthesized an artificial human prion, a scientific first that could eventually lead to treatments for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and other deadly brain-wasting disorders.

If you’ve heard of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (also known as mad cow disease), you’ve heard of prions. In humans, these misfolded proteins give rise to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and other TSEs—devastating conditions with no known treatment or cure. The molecular processes involved in these brain-destroying disorders are poorly understood, but new research published this week in Nature represents a major advance in this area.