PerspectiveLandmark: Neurodegeneration

Shifts and drifts in prion science

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Science  02 Oct 2020:
Vol. 370, Issue 6512, pp. 32-34
DOI: 10.1126/science.abb8577

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Summary

Paradigm shifts are drivers of scientific progress, yet the shifters of the paradigms often experience scorn rather than immediate applause. That was the fate of Stanley Prusiner's 1982 paper claiming—to the initial amusement of his colleagues—that scrapie, a degenerative disease that affects the central nervous system of sheep, is caused by “proteinaceous infectious particles,” which he called prions (1). Prusiner's intuition, which earned him the 1997 Nobel Prize, is influencing our approach to an ever-expanding variety of seemingly unrelated diseases and physiological processes, and its implications reverberate to the present day.

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