Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Preventing the Spread of Prions in Medical Settings: New Plasma Solutions

In the Spirit of our Prion lecture today, I found an article discussing new research on how to prevent prion disease.   It is particularly looking at how to prevent the spread of prions in medical settings or food settings, such as contaiminated medical tools or contaminated food appliances. 

First off, the article points out that one of the major problems with prevention is that prion disease often have very long incubation periods and so preventing the transmission in the food industry and medical industry is hard.  Additionally, prions are resistant to most sterilization producedures.  Since the lack nucleic acids, you cannot desire treatments aimed at destroying the DNA or RNA.  Also, prions can survive at lots fo different temperatures, so they withstand regular treatments with high pressure steam.  This means that in order to sterilize, for example a medical tool, you would have to submerge the tool for one hour in a high concentration sodium hydroxide and autoclave it.  But many delicate medical tools cannot withstand this treatment.  

In order to try and create some better method to prevent prion spread, researchers V. Scholz and colleagues found that exposition of samples to corona dischange led to inactivation fo prions if the temperature of the samples remained low. The finding suggests that this method could be further developed at ambient temperatures, and is promising potential for prion inactivation.  

--Lauren Platt



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