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Mad-Cow Disease May Hold Clues To Other Neurological Disorders

By AMY DOCKSER MARCUS, www.wsj.com

Scientists believe new ways to treat Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease could emerge from research into another neurodegenerative disorder: mad-cow disease. The rare bovine disorder, which infects cattle, and the human form, called Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, both fall into a category of so-called prion diseases, caused by aberrant proteins that spread aggressively from cell to cell.

While the human variant of mad-cow disease isn’t normally lumped together with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or Lou Gehrig’s disease, which affect millions of mostly older people world-wide, the conditions share the ability to spread and wreak havoc through the body. And although there isn’t evidence that these more common neurological disorders are transmissible to people, researchers are finding that each condition is associated with a similar deformation in the structure of particular proteins needed for normal healthy functioning. Read the rest of the article here.

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