Scientists still understand little about why and how in some cases normal proteins change to prions and destroy the brain. All patients die, most of them within a few months, but there are differences between individual cases. The hope is that understanding the differences between individual cases might eventually provide some insight into the causes of the disease and suggest ways to treat it.
To catalogue and examine those differences, it is important to come up with standard assays that allow meaningful comparisons. Markus Glatzel (Hamburg University) and colleagues have developed such an assay. Applying it to 50 postmortem samples from patients with sCJD reveals substantial differences in molecular pathology, suggesting that this approach could indeed help to understand this mysterious and devastating disease.
Citation: Schoch G, Seeger H, Bogousslavsky J, Tolnay M, Janzer RC, et al. (2006) Analysis of prion strains by PrPSc profiling in sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. PLoS Med 3(2): e14.
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