Scientists Knock-out Prion Gene in Cows

Posted on January 1, 2007  Comments (2)

Scientists Announce Mad Cow Breakthrough by Rick Weiss

Scientists said yesterday that they have used genetic engineering techniques to produce the first cattle that may be biologically incapable of getting mad cow disease. The animals, which lack a gene that is crucial to the disease’s progression, were not designed for use as food. They were created so that human pharmaceuticals can be made in their blood without the danger that those products might get contaminated with the infectious agent that causes mad cow.

That agent, a protein known as a prion (pronounced PREE-on), can cause a fatal human ailment, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, if it gets into the body. More generally, scientists said, the animals will facilitate studies of prions, which are among the strangest of all known infectious agents because they do not contain any genetic material.

Prions remain poorly understood, but experiments suggest that it takes just one bad one to ruin a brain. That’s because a badly folded prion in the brain can strong-arm normal, nearby prions, turning good prions bad.

Related: Do Prions Exist?The Prion AnomalyNobel prize speech by Professor Ralf F. Pettersson (he won for discovering prions)

2 Responses to “Scientists Knock-out Prion Gene in Cows”

  1. CuriousCat: Clues to Prion Infectivity
    September 6th, 2007 @ 9:24 pm

    “One of the unexplained questions facing prion researchers is how a single prion can apparently assume different conformations — with each conformation having different disease or phenotypic properties…”

  2. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Soil Mineral Degrades the Nearly Indestructible Prion
    April 13th, 2010 @ 8:41 am

    […] Clues to Prion Infectivity – Scientists Knock-out Prion Gene in Cows – Curious Cat Science and Engineering Search by curiouscat   Tags: Life Science, […]

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