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'Lifeless' Prion Proteins Are 'Capable of Evolution'

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posted on Jan, 3 2010 @ 01:22 PM

'Lifeless' Prion Proteins Are 'Capable of Evolution'

Scientists have shown for the first time that "lifeless" prion proteins, devoid of all genetic material, can evolve just like higher forms of life.
The Scripps Research Institute in the US says the prions can change to suit their environment and go on to develop drug resistance.
Prions are associated with 20 different brain diseases in humans and animals.
"...stop abnormal prions being transmitted to humans through the food system or through blood transfusions..."
(visit the link for the full news article)

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posted on Jan, 3 2010 @ 01:22 PM
So - prions (infectious misfolded proteins) are now acknowledged to evolve and adapt.

Prions hitch-hike on viruses, and also on microbes like bacteria and fungi.

Mainstream medicine admits that prions are associated with 20 different brain diseases in humans and animals.

However, the evidence suggests that not only do prions cause most modern chronic and debilitating diseases, but they also underlie the current trend to accelerated evolution in microbes as well as complex living organisms.

What's most astounding about this news is the fact that it came out publicly, in the mainstream media.

NOTE: The last paragraph above was trimmed. The full quote is as follows:

"This is a timely reminder that prion concerns are not going away and that controls to stop abnormal prions being transmitted to humans through the food system or through blood transfusions must be vigorously maintained."

tinkered for clarity
(visit the link for the full news article)

[edit on 3-1-2010 by soficrow]

posted on Jan, 3 2010 @ 03:18 PM
The Tasmanian Devil scourge just might be another prion-related disease - it's spread via nerve cells called Schwann cells.

Check out loam's old thread here:


[edit on 3-1-2010 by soficrow]

posted on Jan, 3 2010 @ 03:26 PM
Interesting, sofi. I'm still trying to wrap my head around what a prion is, exactly. It's a misfolded protein. So at what point does this happen? Is this from many different causes, or just one? Does radiation, heavy metals, "chance", viruses, bacteria, etc..all cause prions? Is this a fairly new class of mutation or has this always been with us?

posted on Jan, 3 2010 @ 03:34 PM
reply to post by soficrow

This is a very significant discovery.

We are really only just scratching the surface in terms of this subject.

Good job chasing these issues, Sofi!

posted on Jan, 3 2010 @ 04:23 PM
They have "leaders" or "messiah" who start a new "nation"...


"The proof of the quasi-species concept is a discovery we made over 30 years ago," he said. "We found that an RNA virus population, which was thought to have only one sequence, was constantly creating mutations and eliminating the unfavorable ones.

In these quasi-populations, much like we have now found in prions, you begin with a single particle, but it becomes very heterogeneous as it grows into a larger population.

There are some unknown dynamics at work in the prion population that leads to this increased heterogeneity, Weissmann added, that still need to be explored. "It's amusing that something we did 30 years has come back to us," he said. "But we know that mutation and natural selection occur in living organisms and now we know that they also occur in a non-living organism. I suppose anything that can't do that wouldn't stand much of a chance of survival."

posted on Jan, 3 2010 @ 05:21 PM
So... I figured that. Since it's "random mutations".... Of course it doesn't need to be "alive".

posted on Jan, 3 2010 @ 06:31 PM
Any system is capable of "evolution," living or not. The Interent, for example, has certainly "evolved."

So the question becomes, is there any fundamental difference between "living" and "nonliving" evolution?

There has always been disagreement about how exactly to define life and what is the dividing point between living and non-living things. Viruses are the best example...they share pretty much all the characteristics of "life" except they cannot reproduce by themselves (they need to invade a cell to do so, for example). For a long time most scientists defined them as "nonliving." Now the consensus among most seems to be that they are "living." (There is probably still some disagreement).

Personally, I don't see that it matters all that much. Viruses contunue to do what they do, despite how our definitions of words change. I see no firm division between life and non-life, personally, and no need to draw one. "It is what it is," as my dear old gramps would have said.

posted on Jan, 3 2010 @ 10:29 PM
Thanks for your contributions everyone. Good stuff, starred of course.

I forgot about these 2 old threads - but they're very relevant to this discussion. Please do check them out:

Mutation and Human Evolution

Mutation, Disease and Human Evolution: What Are the Options?


PS. "Mutation and Human Evolution" helps answer your questions, unityemissions.

ed. typo + to add PS

[edit on 3-1-2010 by soficrow]

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