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Glowing Molecule Detects Prion Diseases

05 December 2007

SWEDEN - An international team of researchers has developed a method of identifying prion and other defective-protein diseases using a fluorescent molecule that changes colour according to the disease present.

Prions are the infectious compounds behind diseases such as mad cow diseases, while other defective-protein diseases are implicated in diseases such as Alzheimer's.

The method, reported in the journal Nature Methods (1), is based on a fluorescent molecule, a so-called conjugated polymer, which was developed at Linköping University in Sweden.

The research team infected genetically identical laboratory mice with BSE, scrapie (which afflicts sheep), and CWD (chronic wasting disease or 'mad elk disease', which is epidemic in the central US) for several generations in a row.

Gradually, new strains of prions emerged, making the diseases more fatal to the mice. Tissue samples from mice were examined using a fluorescent molecule that binds with prions. This is detected by a shift in colour.

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Source: MTBeurope


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