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No. 41: Sep-Oct 1985

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Scrapie Transmitted By Prions

Scrapie is an infectious neurological disorder in sheep. The infectious agent has been isolated, but it consists only of geneless prions. Somehow, these prions, which are merely protein filaments, get into a sheep's brain and replicate themselves to cause scrapie. With no genetic material of their own, how do the prions multiply? Recent laboratory work suggests that the prions subvert a gene that normally dwells in the brain. With the help of this gene, an endless stream of prions emerges, and the animal is sick. In hamsters, which are employed in laboratory research on scrapie, a gene demarcated PrP has been implicated in scrapie. PrP is present in both healthy and infected hamster brains, but no one knows what its normal function is, if indeed it has one.

(Anonymous; "Prion Gene," Scientific American, 253:60, July 1985.)

Comment. One can make an immediate connection between the traitorous PrP genes in the hamster brains and the excess genetic material in humans and all life forms. Biologists commonly call excess genetic material "nonsense DNA" which only means that they haven't devined its purpose. But, as already sugested, these unused blueprints may have had some past purpose or will be called into action in the future. The purpose may be insidious, as in the case of scrapie, or vital to the organism's survival in some unrecognized biological Armageddons.

From Science Frontiers #41, SEP-OCT 1985. 1985-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987