Nerves Could be Kept Healthy by Prions, Scientists Claim

Brain-Tissue-vCJD-Neuron-LossCurrently, Swiss scientists are busy carrying out experiments on mice that might help them understand the ways in which the prion protein works. The protein is linked to the brain disease vCJD.

Scientists have stressed that there is strong evidence suggesting that prions play an important part in the proper maintenance of the sheath the surrounds nerves, while also sharing that it is highly possible that an absence of this protein causes diseases which affect the peripheral nervous system.

The latest research has taken all the previous speculations and cues further, and claimed that prions might offer protection against Alzheimer's disease, in additional to playing a role in the human sense of smell.

"This opens a new door to studying some of the many common neuropathy disorders - which lead to weakness or loss of sensitivity of limbs - where we don't know the cause", said prion expert Simon Mead at University College London's Institute of Neurology.

The study, undertaken at the University Hospital of Zurich in Switzerland and led by Adriano Aguzzi, has been detailed in the journal Nature Neuroscience.