Porphyrin and Phthalocyanine Antiscrapie Compounds

Science  25 Feb 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5457, pp. 1503-1506
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5457.1503

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The transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) are fatal, neurodegenerative diseases for which no effective treatments are available. The likelihood that a bovine form of TSE has crossed species barriers and infected humans underscores the urgent need to identify anti-TSE drugs. Certain cyclic tetrapyrroles (porphyrins and phthalocyanines) have recently been shown to inhibit the in vitro formation of PrP-res, a protease-resistant protein critical for TSE pathogenesis. We now report that treatment of TSE-infected animals with three such compounds increased survival time from 50 to 300%. The significant inhibition of TSE disease by structurally dissimilar tetrapyrroles identifies these compounds as anti-TSE drugs.

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