Saturday, May 16, 2015

Grass plants can transport infectious prions says UTHealth research


A UTHealth team in Houston led
 by Claudio Soto, Ph.D., has
 discovered that grass plants
 can transport infectious prions.
HOUSTON -- (May 15, 2015) -- Grass plants can bind, uptake and transport infectious prions, according to researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). The research was published online in the latest issue of Cell Reports.

Prions are the protein-based infectious agents responsible for a group of diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, which includes bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease) in cattle, scrapie in sheep, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans and chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer, elk and moose. All are fatal brain diseases with incubation periods that last years.
CWD, first diagnosed in mule deer in Colorado in the late 1960s, has spread across the country into 22 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including the counties of 
El Paso and Hudspeth in Texas. In northeastern Colorado and 
southeastern Wyoming, the disease is endemic. Soto's team sought 
to find out why.