Prospects for safe and effective vaccines against prion diseases

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Prion diseases are subacute neurodegenerative diseases that affect humans and animals. An abnormally folded isoform (PrPSc) of the host cellular prion protein is considered to constitute the major, if not sole, component of the infectious prion. The occurrence of variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease in humans most likely arose due to consumption of food contaminated with bovine spongiform encephalopathy prions. The demonstration that some prion infections may have the capacity to transmit to other species, especially humans, has focused attention on the development of safe and effective vaccines against these invariably fatal and currently incurable diseases. Although much effort has been invested in the development of safe and effective anti-PrP vaccines, many important issues remain to be resolved.

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