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[P]
Form of mad cow disease kills man.

By communista in News
Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 12:25:50 PM EST
Tags: News (all tags)
News

It's a disease many associate with animals but a rare form of mad cow disease has claimed a life in Ohio.


At 63, Jim Sine was active and healthy. In early March, he started showing signs that something was wrong. Doctors thought he had Alzheimer's, but it was much worse. Jim was suffering from a rare brain disorder known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, a variant of Mad Cow (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy). It's untreatable, incurable, and always fatal. The symptoms are dementia that develops rapidly, clumsiness, lack of coordination, and eventually brief limb jerks. A person gets CJD through being exposed to tissue or spinal fluid from somebody who has the condition, and in rare cases, from ingesting tainted meat. Death usually occurs anywhere between 3 months to a year after symptoms start to show, but in Jim's case, it was less than two months. CJD affects 1 in 1 million people.

H.G. Creutzfeldt is credited with the first description of the disorder in 1920, with German neurologist A. Jakob discovering four cases less than a year later. The most recent concern has been the growing number of CJD victims due to meat contamination. Today, where there is a greater demand for meat, the young animals are seperated from their mothers after three weeks. They are given drugs and growth hormones to keep them alive and to grow rapidly. When they mature, they are given mass amounts of antibiotics to ward off diseases such as streptococcal meningitis, enzootic pneumonia, colitis, pneumonia, proliferative enterophathy, enteritis, respiratory diseases, oedema, Glassers disease, diarrhea ... the list goes on. Many of the animals, due to their underdeveloped immune systems succumb to these illnesses. The ones that so survive are slaughtered and shipped to your local supermarket. While the infections have been warded off by most of the antibiotics, the humans who eat them have a potential to become infected. The most common we see today are gastroenteritis and diarrhea (fun stuff).

Doctors have not yet been able to determine how Jim Sine contracted the disease, but many fear that an epidemic breakout of CJD cases is possible. This link has some information about Mad Cow and CJD (or Human BSE) and how it is passed along. Will we need to evolve into a more veggie oriented world, or will doctors find a cure?

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Poll
Is there a danger of Human BSE becoming widespread?
o No danger whatsoever. 17%
o Slight danger. 27%
o Moderate danger, if we're not careful. 21%
o Great danger. 10%
o Anything is possible. 23%

Votes: 47
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o This link
o Also by communista


Display: Sort:
Form of mad cow disease kills man. | 97 comments (49 topical, 48 editorial, 0 hidden)
isn't human infection well-known? (3.33 / 3) (#1)
by Delirium on Mon Jul 30, 2001 at 03:19:50 PM EST

I thought that was the whole worry about "mad cow disease" in the first place - that humans can be infected. Otherwise it'd be a problem for farmers, but only on the same level as "hoof and mouth disease," not anything worthy of a severe scare.

Yes it was. (4.00 / 4) (#2)
by communista on Mon Jul 30, 2001 at 03:25:45 PM EST

The concern was mild, and several farmers in the UK were instructed how to properly slaughter their animals. Since this disease affects the spine, they ordered that the spinal cord must be completely removed from the animal. Ever bitten into a hamburger and gotten into a hard little piece? It was likely bone oor spinal cord, as butchers are a little careless when slaughtering and grinding their meat. Enjoy...
/me fucks shit up!!!!
[ Parent ]
In the U.S. (4.80 / 5) (#5)
by dennis on Mon Jul 30, 2001 at 03:41:34 PM EST

If you live in the U.S. you're still getting spinal cord in your hamburger. U.S. rendering plants use a high-pressure process to remove every last bit of meat from the bones, and bits of spinal cord get mixed in. The process is illegal in Europe these days.

[ Parent ]
Correct (3.66 / 3) (#7)
by communista on Mon Jul 30, 2001 at 03:56:31 PM EST

Right you are. I should have mentioned that :)
/me fucks shit up!!!!
[ Parent ]
In the US.... (4.50 / 2) (#60)
by physicsgod on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 01:13:47 AM EST

Any meat containing spinal tissue cannot be sold as "meat". So as long as you stick to those "all meat patties" you'll be OK. Of course you could always make your own burgers, it's not that hard to go from steaks to patties.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
Yes and no (4.00 / 1) (#71)
by leviathan on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 09:10:34 AM EST

Originally it was thought that BSE was a variant of scrapie from sheep - it had already crossed a species barrier from sheep to cow, so it could do the same from cow to human. That theorey has now fallen from favour; it's now thought there's no link between the two diseases. However over the last few years cases of a new variant of CJD have been appearing that bear a striking resemblance to BSE. Originally it was only conjecture that it was scrapie that had already jumped. Now it's (more probable) conjecture that new variant CJD is BSE in humans.

Or that's my layman's understanding of it anyway.

--
I wish everyone was peaceful. Then I could take over the planet with a butter knife.
- Dogbert
[ Parent ]

The Times They Are A Changing... (4.66 / 6) (#4)
by tomte on Mon Jul 30, 2001 at 03:35:56 PM EST

Itīs funny, with all necessary respect, to see how things change: A year ago BSE was the bovine form of CJD, today CJD is the human form of BSE....
I wonder: is this due to a difference in journalistic review/style in reporting about bse between europe and the usa (mass-media) ?
Besides, this is not the first case in the united states, as I read here. If you want the full paranoia blown in your reading-brain-parts :-) search on google for " cjd bse children die death young ", thatīll do it...
--
Funny. There's a brightness dial on the monitor, but the users don't get any smarter.
26 years old?? (3.75 / 4) (#10)
by communista on Mon Jul 30, 2001 at 04:11:48 PM EST

Eek. Creepy stuff. And here I was saying it was a shame the man died in his 60s.
/me fucks shit up!!!!
[ Parent ]
26 is not the lower limit ;-( (3.50 / 2) (#22)
by tomte on Mon Jul 30, 2001 at 05:17:05 PM EST

IIRC a 16 year old girl died in GB as one of the first victims before the BSE-Hype last year or so...I just didnīt found the related article to link to...

--
Funny. There's a brightness dial on the monitor, but the users don't get any smarter.
[ Parent ]
+1 FP, This is EXTREMELY serious. (3.40 / 5) (#15)
by maynard on Mon Jul 30, 2001 at 04:46:30 PM EST

This is the first case I've heard of a human infected with CJD in the United States. Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease is well known in Europe, having infected some 40 or so patients in England alone. It's believed to be a Prion (a PBS/Nova discussion on the subject) disease transmitted by eating infected cattle. Most scientists suspect that cattle are infected by eating the brain/spinal tissue of other infected cattle in their feed. It is thought that the prions build up in brain tissue like a plaque (or transform other proteins into dangerous prions), killing neurons throughout the brain in the process. No one knows the incubation period, but some suspect as long as thirty years. No one knows how much infected cattle are required to cause the onset of CJD. Some suspect that the prions build up over time until they cross a threshold level in the brain which initiates the disease, others believe that only a single dose of the prions are necessary, after which they cause a deadly chain reaction. A recently discovered (1999) "switch" may lead to a diagnostic test in the near future. Either way, you don't want to fuck with this disease.

What's frightening about this is that like early on in England, the media have portrayed the "mad cow disease" epidemic as limited in scope to England, or at most Europe. When the disease was first reported in England the early nineties it received scant press coverage while health officials downplayed its danger to the public. The same has happened here, with public officials from the FDA claiming that the US is likely not at risk from CJD even though we use similar feed that were thought to be the cause of the UK's outbreak. Since (like AIDS) it's thought to have such a long gestation period before illness sets in, no one knows just how many have been infected or what the likely health consequences will be.

Recommendation from me: eat more Soy, Beans & Rice, substitute red meat for Chicken. I've mostly cut red meat out of my diet for other health reasons, but this is enough to convince me that I should cut red meat out altogether. JMO.

--Maynard

Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.

no one knows how cows really get BSE... (4.00 / 2) (#18)
by krkrbt on Mon Jul 30, 2001 at 05:01:59 PM EST

unless you count the farmers in Britain whose herds haven't seen a single case. Don't have links at this computer, but a search for "manganese mad cow" on google turned up this page:

Pharmaceutical interests in the UK are ignoring new scientific research that shows the insecticide used in the UK government's own warble-fly campaigns triggered the UK surge of 'Mad Cow' disease.

Latest experiments by Cambridge University prion specialist, David R. Brown, have shown that manganese bonds with prions. Other researchers work shows that prions in the bovine spine --along which insecticides are applied-- can be damaged by ICI's Phosmet organophosphate(OP) insecticide -causing the disease.

British scientists have led the current theory that an infectious prion in bonemeal fed to cattle causes bovine spongiform disease (BSE).

Infectious prions are also claimed to cause new variant Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease (CJD) in humans -from ingesting beef. But the infectious prion theory serves to obscure a tragic chemical poisoning scandal behind the majority of BSE cases.

The new work proves that the prions can bond with manganese in animal feeds or mineral licks. These manganese prions cause the neurological degeneration seen in BSE. By a similar process, prions in human brains are damaged by lice lotions containing organophosphate. This can result in neurological diseases like CJD and Alzheimers -later in life.
...

Organic farmers use no such pesticides on their herds, and for the herds that have been closed for many years (no new cows introduced), no cases of BSE have been seen. Manganese is also all over britain, a relic from early 20th century industry, I believe.. Read the rest of the article, it's a good one.

As for myself, I eat red meat, raw of course! ;) (though I do sympathize with the vegetarian cause).



[ Parent ]
Dont worry about us! (5.00 / 2) (#68)
by pallex on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 05:18:35 AM EST

>though I do sympathize with the vegetarian cause

We`re alright!! Its you lot who need to be careful!

Todays message: dont feed cows (vegetarians) the remains of other animals, pump them full of growth hormones (notice how people are getting bigger these days), then eat them, brains and all, if you can`t take a joke!


[ Parent ]
Questions: (2.50 / 2) (#59)
by physicsgod on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 01:10:59 AM EST

Can cooking the prion deactivate it, by denaturing the protein?

Have you tried Buffalo or Ostrich? Both are red meats, much lower in cholesterol than beef, and (in the case of buffalo) tastier. The only downside is they're a bit more expensive.

Finally, in the US it is forbidden to feed most mammilian proteins to ruminates. All hail the USDA.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]

Answers: (4.50 / 2) (#62)
by maynard on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 01:52:42 AM EST

Can cooking the prion deactivate it, by denaturing the protein?

I don't believe so. I've read that the prion (a malfolded protein) will survive most cooking. I suspect this is because a large enough percentage of the prions survive intact from most cooking that it doesn't matter, though I have to reference to back this up. I suspect no one really knows the answer to this yet.

Have you tried Buffalo or Ostrich? Both are red meats, much lower in cholesterol than beef, and (in the case of buffalo) tastier. The only downside is they're a bit more expensive.

I have tried ostrich, have not tried buffalo. I really didn't like the taste and texture of ostrich and probably won't eat it again. As for buffalo, sure I'd try it. I certainly like deer meat.

Finally, in the US it is forbidden to feed most mammilian proteins to ruminates. All hail the USDA.

You appear to be right about the FDA ban, however, I understand that there's little government inspection and it's common for many cattle ranchers to use inapropriate feed. Hopefully, you're right, I'm wrong, and this case will prove a transient event.

Cheers,
--Maynard

Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]

Another U.S. case (4.00 / 2) (#79)
by adjuster on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 06:27:49 PM EST

This is the first case I've heard of a human infected with CJD in the United States.

I'm not sure where in the country Jim Sine was located, but while I was on vacation in Traverse City, MI a couple weeks ago, I saw this article in the local newspaper (search this mega-article for Creutzfeldt to find the specific instance). I doubt this is the first U.S. case.

Could you hate me, too?
[ Parent ]

Other US cases (4.00 / 1) (#92)
by Anonymous 242 on Wed Aug 01, 2001 at 03:57:31 PM EST

11 Cases of CJD were reported in Kentucky between 1993 and 1997.

The working hypothesis is that the disease were transmitted through squirrels as all the victims had a history of eating squirrel brains.

Comforting thought, eh?

Regards,

Lee

[ Parent ]

Hrm (4.60 / 5) (#29)
by delmoi on Mon Jul 30, 2001 at 06:14:33 PM EST

You listed a bunch of diseases that cows can catch due to poor immune systems, etc, but diseases such as Mad Cow and CJD are prion based... nether viruses or bacteria. Prions are self-replicating proteins, not DNA-based life. And as far as I know, sanitary conditions have no real effect on whether or not you can catch it. For one thing, you (or the cow, whatever) actually have to ingest the stuff... you can catch it just from sitting in filth (or whatever).

As far as I know, the only known vector for human-human infection is cannibalism, or Organ transplants.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
Not entirely true. (3.66 / 3) (#31)
by communista on Mon Jul 30, 2001 at 06:24:09 PM EST

According to an article I read and according to a few comments posted by readers in the UK, a committee has stated that they must remove the entire spinal cord from the slaughtered animal (there is no law or statement for butchers in the US to do this). The disease is transmitted (as listed above) through contact with spinal fluid from an affected animal/person.
/me fucks shit up!!!!
[ Parent ]
Human to human (4.00 / 1) (#69)
by pallex on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 05:24:43 AM EST

If by human to human you mean the traditional way you get an illness, such as a virus or bacteria, from sex, or sneezing, or whatever, then i`m not sure. But its not just ingesting stuff - its been suggested that the use of animal products in medicines could be partly responsible for spreading CJD.

[ Parent ]
What is it like being a vegetarian anyway? (2.50 / 2) (#37)
by Sheepdot on Mon Jul 30, 2001 at 06:41:30 PM EST

Or is it like some say sexual preference is in that it is determined at birth and not a choice?

Note: This is not a troll, this is a serious question that I honestly haven't heard enough about and I don't know of any good vegen resources on the web, I've always thought of it as a choice, but I suppose I could be wrong. We do have canines though, which would lead me to believe that humans are omnivores, but genetics might have a say in "food preference" just as it does in "sexual preference".

I long ago was having stomach and bowel problems and considered switching to vegetarianism, but decided against it cause of one reason:

BACON. I love the stuff. I could probably go without eating every single kind of meat but bacon. If I had to live my life without eating bacon, well, that's a life not worth living.

Lamb chops are pretty good too, but I'm not a *big* fan of them.


I personally... (4.00 / 3) (#41)
by communista on Mon Jul 30, 2001 at 06:52:00 PM EST

I ate meat for 21 years of my life. I liked it, I ate it often. It started to hurt my stomach and outrightly make me ill. Being sick, in any fashion is not a happy thing. I stopped eating meat, and my pains went away. I eat vegetable protein, I take vitamins and eat my veggies. I'm as healthy as any meateater, if not healthier. It was a choice I made for my wellbeing, I was not born that way. As for vegan/vegetarian resources:

This is a nice vegetarian/vegan store including clothing as well as food.

Here's another place that sells products and has some good information.

I honestly, do not endorse PETA. Their scare tactics are absurd and it's silly to think everyone's going to be a vegetarian. It's a part of that "Wouldn't this be a nice world if..." theory many people dream up in their heads.
/me fucks shit up!!!!
[ Parent ]
Please explain (4.00 / 1) (#96)
by FnordLord on Thu Aug 02, 2001 at 09:19:52 PM EST

I honestly, do not endorse PETA. Their scare tactics are absurd and it's silly to think everyone's going to be a vegetarian.
Well, PETA is absurd. But why is it silly to think that we will all be vegetarian someday?

[ Parent ]
vegetarianism: I had to give it up. (4.33 / 3) (#50)
by maynard on Mon Jul 30, 2001 at 08:36:17 PM EST

I tried being a vegetarian for about a year before giving it up. I ate properly, plenty of rice & beans, plenty of tofu, plenty of whole vegetables steamed, plus I ate cheese which has most of the essential proteins. The trick to vegetarianism is to eat enough variety that you'll wind up with the necessary whole proteins you would normally get from eating meat, and to supplement this with a good multivitamin. You would be well advised to contact your physician and/or dietitian before jumping into vegetarianism, but it can be done safely with proper care.

That said, I had to give it up. It left me tired and groggy even with a meticulously planned diet. I still eat vegetarian food (tonight rice & beans), but I supplement it with chicken, fish, eggs, and the occasional steak when I get the hankering (it's a treat once a month or so, though if CJD becomes an issue here in the U.S. I'll give up red meat real fast). Generally, some form of meat once every other day is more than enough, though sometimes I eat a bit once a day. The idea that one needs meat at every meal is ridiculous. Harvard Press recently released an excellent book on proper diet: Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy : The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating.

My sneaking suspicion: there's a genetic variation in the human population which makes some better able to sustain a vegetarian diet than others. I know I have a problem with vitamin B-12 absorption (commonly found in red meat) and this is a genetic disorder, so it seems possible such a thing like this could lead to needing meat for protein or vitamin density in some people. Just a guess.

Cheers,
--Maynard

Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]

I haven't eaten meat since I was about two.. (3.50 / 2) (#55)
by UFOHoaxer on Mon Jul 30, 2001 at 09:54:18 PM EST

I haven't eaten meat since I was about two. I never really considered myself a vegetarian until recently, though. I don't choose to be a vegetarian for any particular reason, it's only that I'm a really picky eater and won't eat meat. I'd rather be called a dessertarian.

[ Parent ]
Choice (4.33 / 3) (#67)
by yooden on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 04:56:13 AM EST

BSE is only one of the reasons I stopped eating meat, and a minor one. The two major ones:

  1. I don't want to contribute to the horrible conditions in husbandry.
  2. I don't want to contribute to the careless invalidation of antibiotics.

Most of the times, I don't even think about meat. When I do, it's sometimes a reminiscence of appetite, sometimes disgust.

So it's a choice. If bacon is your reason to continue eating meat, so be it, but the easiest choice is not always the best. As long as you continue eating meat, you are contributing to the problems.



[ Parent ]
Veggies not safe (4.33 / 3) (#72)
by Betcour on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 09:15:02 AM EST

Well in the UK a vegetarian (who had been so for about 30 years) died from the new-form CJD... the thing is, beef byproducts are used in cosmetics, candies, cakes, etc... hard to never eat some.

[ Parent ]
Living in Fear (4.00 / 1) (#51)
by sventhatcher on Mon Jul 30, 2001 at 09:36:28 PM EST

If people only did things which were generally of no or very low risk to their personal safety, we would live in a very boring world. If you enjoy red meat, by all means. Eat away. Don't become a vegetarian just because there's a .01% chance that you might die of some horrible disease as a result. That's living in fear. Sure, it's unhealthy if you don't blanace your diet with other things and get the proper amount of exercise, but so is peanut butter or apple pie. I don't see anyone standing on the corner shouting out about avoiding them on a daily basis. It's important to have a concern for your health and well being, but it's unhealthy to obsess over it. Trying to push your body to perfection is likely to have negative effects somewhere down the road. If not physical, then psychological. If you want to be a vegetarian because you believe in animal rights, more power to you. If you want to be a vegetarian because you don't really like meat anyway, more power to you. It's just silly to totally cut yourself off from meat (red or otherwise) just because it's a "health risk", because it's a managable health risk if you have any sort of self-control.

--Sven (Now with bonus vanity weblog! (MLP Sold Seperately))
Living in Fear (3.20 / 5) (#52)
by sventhatcher on Mon Jul 30, 2001 at 09:36:50 PM EST

If people only did things which were generally of no or very low risk to their personal safety, we would live in a very boring world.

If you enjoy red meat, by all means. Eat away. Don't become a vegetarian just because there's a .01% chance that you might die of some horrible disease as a result. That's living in fear.

Sure, it's unhealthy if you don't blanace your diet with other things and get the proper amount of exercise, but so is peanut butter or apple pie. I don't see anyone standing on the corner shouting out about avoiding them on a daily basis.

It's important to have a concern for your health and well being, but it's unhealthy to obsess over it. Trying to push your body to perfection is likely to have negative effects somewhere down the road. If not physical, then psychological.

If you want to be a vegetarian because you believe in animal rights, more power to you.

If you want to be a vegetarian because you don't really like meat anyway, more power to you.

It's just silly to totally cut yourself off from meat (red or otherwise) just because it's a "health risk", because it's a managable health risk if you have any sort of self-control.

--Sven (Now with bonus vanity weblog! (MLP Sold Seperately))
Nah (4.33 / 3) (#53)
by communista on Mon Jul 30, 2001 at 09:43:46 PM EST

Nah, I became a vegetarian before any of this. Plus, meat makes me ill. Not fun.
/me fucks shit up!!!!
[ Parent ]
*nod* (3.50 / 2) (#54)
by sventhatcher on Mon Jul 30, 2001 at 09:51:15 PM EST

That's a good reason.

I wasn't addressing you specificaly, just the general K5 audience. There are a lot of people who are vega-nazis preaching the evils of meat, and I just can't stand fanatics generally. =)

--Sven (Now with bonus vanity weblog! (MLP Sold Seperately))
[ Parent ]

Fanatics (3.00 / 1) (#95)
by FnordLord on Thu Aug 02, 2001 at 06:46:41 PM EST

A difference of opinion does not make one a "fanatic." I am often called a fanatic for believing that it is unethical to kill another creature for your own comfort. Are you a fanatic for suggesting that it is unethical to kill other people and that it should be unlawful to do so?

[ Parent ]
killing for comfort (5.00 / 1) (#97)
by lb008d on Fri Aug 03, 2001 at 02:28:09 PM EST

so when's the last time you swatted a fly, wasp or mosquito?

[ Parent ]
a cure for this disease? unlikely (4.83 / 6) (#58)
by NoNeckJoe on Mon Jul 30, 2001 at 10:47:47 PM EST

CJD is a truly nasty disease. It is not a virus. It is not bacteria. It is not a fungus. Is is a protein; a protien that every person produces naturally in their own bodies. In it's natural state this protein is harmless, in fact it is essential to maintain proper brain function. However, CJD occurs when this protein folds incorrectly. It can not perform its natural function, and acts as a catalyst to create malformed proteins like itself. It is resistant to many forms of sterilization.

Although the chances of catching this disease are slim, the best way to avoid it is to not eat any meat that could contain neurological material. High on this list is sausage, which is a real witches brew of meat and byproducts.

The nature of this disease makes finding a cure unlikely. It is hard to find a way to attack the bad protein without also destroying the good protein, and the body doesn't even recognize the bad protein as a foreign invader.

Possable.. (4.00 / 2) (#65)
by ajduk on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 03:33:46 AM EST

Just find a drug that blocks the transformaton process (i.e. binding to the site on the deformed protein that causes other molecules o the same protein to deform).

Alternatively, block the binding between the deformed proteins (more difficult..), so that they separate and can be dealt with by the cells self cleaning mechanisms.

Both are tricky, but at least the prion cannot evolve resistance. Problem is, by the time symptoms start to show, even a complete and immediate cure could not reverse the brain damage.



[ Parent ]
Not likely, in this century... (3.00 / 1) (#93)
by Parity on Wed Aug 01, 2001 at 04:42:51 PM EST

Binding type inhibitors work on chemical patterns, not on the way those patterns are folded, and will attack both good and bad proteins.

The second idea is (Or the nearest workable version to it is) the same as 'don't let prions touch healthy molecules' which doesn't help.

Sure, you can theorize 'there might be an inhibitor that binds only to the wrongly folded protein', you probably cannot reasonably theorize (short of force-field weilding nanites) a means of forcing prions to stay away from healthy proteins. In any case, neither idea is a known and practiced technique, and there may or may not ever be a technique that fights them.

If there is, it will probably look like a custom-constructed molecule that binds to a prion, and we are not yet at the point of being able to synthesize arbitrary molecules from raw atoms, much less know what they'd do before making them.

There's a lot of things we might have in 10 years, but I don't think a cure for prion-diseases is one of them. I hope otherwise, but I don't expect it.

Parity None


[ Parent ]
Actually.. (5.00 / 1) (#94)
by ajduk on Thu Aug 02, 2001 at 03:43:56 AM EST

Most drugs work by binding to the active site of a protein, i.e. the unique site that actually does the work. In the case of prions, you would simply need to find a molecule that binds to the site on the prion that causes 'healthy' molecules to become prions. Most antibiotics and all anti viral drugs work in this way.

The second idea is pretty similar, you just stop the prions sticking to one another - this is what causes the damage, as it prevents the cell from cleaning up the prions. You just need a molecule that will bind to the prion and keep it water-soluable.


It's worth pointing out that

a) Organic chemists can synthesize pretty much any possable molecule now, and

b) Computer modeling on the molecular level, coupled with images of actual protein molecules, has started to reach the stage where we can predict the effect of a molecule. You might have heard about this cancer-fighting screensaver..

Indeed, if moore's law continues fro about another 20 years, it might be possable to completely automate the process of going from a protein sequence, to calculating the structure, to calculating the reactions catalysed, and then working out inhibitors and their effects..


[ Parent ]
The problems with CJD (5.00 / 2) (#70)
by jd on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 09:08:40 AM EST

First, it is not known for sure what causes it. Other posters mention the theory that it is a protein. That's not strictly correct - the theory actually refers to the agent as a prion.

However, this is ONLY a theory. The agent is undetectable, can survive temperatures in excess of 2000 degrees celcius, and is capable of moving through the lining of the stomach. Intact proteins generally can't do any of these.

A Professor of Microbiology, at Leeds University, who has studied Mad Cow Disease more than any other person, and was the first to identify that it was transmissable to humans, has also said that up to 50% of the population of Great Britain could be vulnerable.

This does not mean Black Death II, but rather that this needs to be taken a bit more seriously than it is.

(Further, as the agent DOES survive extreme temperatures, it is entirely possible that the mass incineration of cattle in the 1990's has led to contamination of the surrounding areas with this deadly agent.)

Nobody knows - for sure - what the incubation period is, in humans. For cattle, the -minimum- is fairly well established, but as cases are still happening, the maximum is completely unknown. For humans, neither limit is known, or can even be guessed at.

The probability of half of England having their brain turn to swiss cheese in the next few years is extremely small, but it's not zero. What it actually is, is a mystery. But at least we know it's not zero.

IMHO, this is something the British should be researching. Forget that gravitational telescope in Scotland - it's not going to see anything. Forget genetic engineering scorpion caterpillars. These experiments really don't achieve anything, beyond some headlines. Concentrate the money on the REAL threats, such as the new variant of CJD, the risk of active CJD agent in and near the sites used for burning, etc.

(Mind you, Britain has plenty of other unusual diseases that could do with better understanding, especially by the public. Flesh-eating bacteria that can render an entire human into a skeleton in hours, for example, make scary headlines. Fact is, it can be easily cured, if treated soon enough. But if nobody knows the symptoms, then who is going to identify it?)

Temperatures.. (4.00 / 1) (#84)
by ajduk on Wed Aug 01, 2001 at 04:05:08 AM EST

I think 2000 degrees centigrate is a typo; perhaps 200-400. If you heat anything organic to 2000 degrees in air, you get a lump of carbon, which is generally regarded as safe. (of course, the whole sample has to get to 2000 degrees, and if you stick a cow on a bonfire, some organics will be released as an aerosol without even getting cooked).

Generally, some food protein does get into the bloodstream from anything you eat (even if it is a small %age). Otherwise, fish and peanut allergies could not happen.

Current epidemiology is a bit worrying; forecast is between several hundred and several hundred thousand dead. Me, I worry whenever I have a headache or memory lapse..

[ Parent ]
THAT is precicely the point. (4.00 / 1) (#90)
by jd on Wed Aug 01, 2001 at 11:36:00 AM EST

There are people who claim that CJD/BSE is NOT organic in nature, that it is the product of neuro-toxins in animal feed, and that its relationship to Scrapie is that Scrapie naturally produces these toxins, and the process of rendering sheep into cattle feed merely concentrates them.

If this claim is correct (and there is really no data to prove -or- disprove it), then it is entirely possible that the 2,000 degree figure (reported by New Scientist) is correct. There are plenty of chemicals which remain stable at that temperature.

Even if CJD is caused by something organic (which begs the question of how it gets through the stomach, into the blood, and then through the blood/brain barrier), you STILL have the possibility of it being a very stable virus, or some other sufficiently simple form of life, that it can survive (briefly) much higher temperatures than protein.

The upper figures for the potential death toll from the BSE epidemic run into the several million dead in Britain, though the figures you've given are the most likely range. The figures for Europe, which took many years to recognise that BSE existed there, may well be as high again, even though it never reached the same magnitude. The lack of detection may have released far more of the active agent into the food chain than happened in the UK.

[ Parent ]

CJD != BSE (strictly) (4.00 / 1) (#75)
by leviathan on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 09:44:13 AM EST

It's mentioned in the last paragraph of the page you link to, but there are other variants of CJD than the one thought to be related to BSE. I don't believe there's any way to make a distinction between the two without a postmortem - indeed I don't believe it's possible to make a diagnosis of any form of CJD prior to death.

These two facts make it likely that a significant number of cases are being missed despite the coverage it's been receiving.

A person gets CJD through being exposed to tissue or spinal fluid from somebody who has the condition, and in rare cases, from ingesting tainted meat.
This only refers to new variant CJD, or at least I think other forms of CJD have different causes. It's also not proven to the best of my knowledge, but it at least seems probable.

--
I wish everyone was peaceful. Then I could take over the planet with a butter knife.
- Dogbert
New Varient CJD (4.00 / 1) (#89)
by Morn on Wed Aug 01, 2001 at 10:54:05 AM EST

I'd just rate your comment, but I feel it deserves a full reply.

I think you're right - in my understanding [which comes mainly fron UK media reports of BSE and CJD] the 'link' between BSE and CJD is an unproven one between BSE and New Varient CJD. If this man died of CJD, it's quite a stretch to say that it was caused by BSE infected beef, and it's an extremely large (and probably extremely unjustified) stretch if this was a forn of CJD other than NVCJD.

The form of CJG he had, and even the 'fact' that this was CJD, would need to be confirmed by an autopsy.

[ Parent ]

Uh... (none / 0) (#77)
by goosedaemon on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 04:21:11 PM EST

I'm sure you're in earnest, but, uh, I can't seem to find any references in your article to justify your claim that Mr. Sine died, let alone of CJD.

Here you go (none / 0) (#78)
by communista on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 05:01:49 PM EST

It's in a local paper, found at wsyx6.com
/me fucks shit up!!!!
[ Parent ]
no good (none / 0) (#88)
by goosedaemon on Wed Aug 01, 2001 at 10:41:16 AM EST

Search Results: 0E0 results most relevant to Document Contents Contain jim sine
Sorry, no results for "jim sine"


[ Parent ]
Speaking of Prions (4.00 / 1) (#80)
by lb008d on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 06:43:05 PM EST

Fo those thinking of taking up cannabilism, here's a kuru reference. It's another brain disease caused by a prion.



In Vitro Fertilization & CJD (4.00 / 1) (#83)
by sexyblonde on Tue Jul 31, 2001 at 09:47:03 PM EST

**YIKES**

This website was created to fill the needs of people who have received notices that the blood products that they, or their children, received, or that were used in the In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) cultures that produced their children, were recalled/withdrawn from the market because a member of the donor pool was diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) or was at risk for the disease. Click here to read more


CJD is an infectious rapidly progressive fatal brain-deteriorating disease for which there is no treatment or cure. It is a member of the class of diseases called Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs). Another TSE is Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (i.e. Mad Cow Disease) which is found in England



Known for a long time (5.00 / 2) (#85)
by debolaz on Wed Aug 01, 2001 at 05:46:24 AM EST

Its strange looking at the world today.. this has been known for years now, how dangerous it is, what it does, when it does it, how it spreads.

I want to clearify what this disease really is, as the world today seems to have some misunderstandings about it (Exclusively due to the media).

I should mention (though not that it makes a practical difference) that CJD and mad cow disease, although related, are different diseases, and I am not just talking about what "animals" they infect, but also their physical shape. CJD usually appears after turning 40-50, while MD are likely to appear long before that. What they have in common is that they both can infect people in 3 ways.

a) Regular infection, by eating nerve tissue.
b) Random mutation. A mutatation creates it, no external source required.
c) Inherit from your parents.

The 2 latter is possible because its (as noted in an earlier comment in this thread) not a virus or bacteria, but a prion (A modified protein).

MD is not only lethal, its an inhumane way to die, personally, I'd rather go in the electric chair. Also, because it can take so long before it becomes active (2 months - many years), many people can get infected by the same source before something is done about it. Its likely that today, thousands are carrying MD without knowing. Its strange that priority is 100% every time a nonlethal disease becomes a bit epidemic, but if a lethal disease just spreads stealthily enough, no one cares untill its too late.

So what would a realistic scenario be? Well, just look at the HIV situation, few cared about that at first.


Good source of information (4.00 / 1) (#87)
by JonesBoy on Wed Aug 01, 2001 at 09:28:43 AM EST

http://www.newscientist.com/hottopics/bse/

A whole archive of knowledge on the topic.
Speeding never killed anyone. Stopping did.
The last US cases I've heard of (4.00 / 1) (#91)
by Anonymous 242 on Wed Aug 01, 2001 at 03:50:56 PM EST

Were the ones involving Kentuckians that had a history of eating squirrel brains.

No joke.

  1. CJD from squirrel brains
  2. Squirrel Brains May Be Unsafe
  3. Mysterious disease yields no answers
  4. The August Almanac (Look under the section: Food)
The last puts it all into perspective:
From 1993 to 1997 doctors diagnosed 11 cases of CJD in rural west Kentucky; all the victims had a history of eating squirrel brains.
regards,

Lee

Form of mad cow disease kills man. | 97 comments (49 topical, 48 editorial, 0 hidden)
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