RUSSELL KIGHTLEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY RUSSELL KIGHTLEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Prion spread. Artwork of a theoretical basis for the spread of prions from cows to humans. Prions are abnormal proteins that are the cause of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), such as BSE in cows, scrapie in sheep and CJD (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease) in humans. They cause fatal brain and nerve degeneration. BSE prions (pink) spread as cows ate infected bovine material. Ingestion by humans led to prion uptake by lymphocytes (spiky balls, immune cells) in the gut and spleen (bottom left and right), going to the brain (upper right), causing new variant CJD. Prions are an abnormal shape of a normal protein, causing normal ones to flip to the abnormal shape.
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