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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Human and animal spongiform encephalopathies are the result of chronic autoimmune attack in the CNS: a novel medical theory supported by overwhelming experimental evidence.

Spongiform encephalopathies, also called "prion diseases", are fatal degenerative diseases of the central nervous system which can occur in animals (such as the "mad cow disease" in cattle) and also in humans. This paper presents a novel medical theory concerning the pathogenic mechanisms for various human and animal spongiform encephalopathies. It is hypothesized that various forms of prion diseases are essentially autoimmune diseases, resulting from chronic autoimmune attack of the central nervous system. A key step in the pathogenic process leading towards the development of spongiform encephalopathies involves the production of specific autoimmune antibodies against the disease-causing prion protein (PrPsc) and possibly other immunogenic macromolecules present in the brain. As precisely explained in this paper, the autoimmune antibodies produced against PrPsc are responsible for the conversion of the normal cellular prion protein (PrPc) to PrPsc, for the accumulation of PrPsc in the brain and other peripheral tissues, and also for the initiation of an antibody-mediated chronic autoimmune attack of the central nervous system neurons, which would contribute to the development of characteristic pathological changes and clinical symptoms associated with spongiform encephalopathies. The validity and correctness of the proposed theory is supported by an overwhelming body of experimental observations that are scattered in the biomedical literature. In addition, the theory also offers practical new strategies for early diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of various human and animal prion diseases.[1]


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