The “Central Dogma” of molecular biology states that DNA encodes RNA, RNA encodes proteins, and proteins are the fundamental units of function in the human body. Proteins, however, can only carry out their functions once they have folded into their stable, three-dimensional structures. Several common neurodegenerative diseases are now linked to abnormal protein folding.
Very rarely, such abnormal folding can be initiated by transmissible agents referred to as “prions.” Person-to-person transmission of these agents is vanishingly rare—however, zoonotic transmission has occurred through the consumption of contaminated beef products in Great Britain. And while contaminated beef has never been a problem in the United States, we are witnessing an epidemic of prion disease among deer and related species that has raised concern about the possibility of zoonotic transmission from these animals to humans.
Members of the community can learn more about the topic in the next virtual Science Café Cleveland event. Mark Cohen, professor of pathology and neurology and co-director of the National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center, will present “Mad Cows, Wasted Deer, and Public Health.”
Join the CWRU chapter of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society, for this event Monday, Jan. 11, at 7 p.m. Get the Zoom information through the Facebook event page.