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The two faces of prion proteins

Researchers look to the good version of the protein implicated in mad cow disease for insight into the protein’s bad side.

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4:37pm, July 14, 2008

When the nefarious Mr. Hyde takes his own life, the good Dr. Jekyll is also killed.

Scientists are adopting the reverse approach for halting the protein behind prion diseases such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob and mad cow. By targeting the harmless version of the brain protein whose evil alter ego brings on disease, researchers have prevented the bad version of the protein from continuing its rampage in the brains of infected mice. The results are reported online July 14 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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