Links between scrapie and MS less likely

Excerpt from the December 25, 1965 issue of Science News Letter

Sheep with scrapie

PERNICIOUS PROTEINS  This 1960 image of American sheep shows the animals rubbing against a fence rail — an early symptom of scrapie and how the disease got its name. Scientists now know that scrapie is caused by misfolding proteins in the brain called prions, the same mechanism that causes Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans. 

Internet Archive Book Images; United States Agricultural Research Service/Flickr

Science forecast for 1966 — Reports could be forthcoming on the possible role of slow-acting viruses on chronic degenerative neurological diseases in man, such as multiple sclerosis. Both multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy could be found closely related to a virus-caused disease “scrapie” in sheep. — Science News Letter, December 25, 1965


Scientists now believe that the brain-wasting disease scrapie is caused by prions, warped proteins that trick normal proteins into misfolding, rather than a virus. Prions are also the culprits behind some human neurodegenerative diseases, such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Proteins involved in Alzheimer’s may behave like prions (SN: 10/17/15, p. 12). Scientists still don’t know the cause of MS, although some evidence suggests a possibe role for prions or bacterial and viral infections, including Epstein-Barr virus. In 1986, scientists discovered that muscular dystrophy results from a genetic mutation

More Stories from Science News on Science & Society