Remember the mad cow disease panic? Prions, a misfolded protein that causes nearby proteins to warp out of shape is the agent responsible, and itâ€™s scary. Even boiling heat and high pressure wonâ€™t stop prions. Prions punch holes in brains, in people and animals. They seem unstoppable.
But thereâ€™s a cool news story about a new approach—
In addition to being perhaps the weirdest infectious agent known to science, the prion is also the most durable. It resists almost every method of destruction from fire and ionizing radiation to chemical disinfectants and autoclaving, which reduce prion infectivity but fail to completely eliminate it.
Now, a team of Wisconsin researchers has found that a common soil mineralâ€”an oxidized from of manganese known as birnessiteâ€”can penetrate the prion’s armor and degrade the protein. The finding may yield ways to decontaminate soil and other environments where prions reside.
Read the rest of the story here.
Just a reminder that science is good for something, and the good earth who gave us life can save us if we respect her.