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Prion diseases: a typical Kuhnian abnormality in a molecular paradigm

Authors
Journal
Medical Hypotheses
0306-9877
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
54
Issue
1
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1054/mehy.1998.0837
Disciplines
  • Biology
  • Medicine

Abstract

Abstract As a new class of pathogens with unusual properties, prions have been implied in several spongiform encephalopathies mainly affecting farm animals (scrapie, mad-cow disease) and humans (kuru, Creutzfeldt–Jacob disease, fatal familial insomnia) (1). The term prions underlines the feature that the agents would merely consist of a protein (2), perhaps a pathological counterpart of a cellular constituent with poorly defined functions (3–5). In reviewing relevant literature, in order to test the validity of the ‘protein-only hypothesis’ for coherence and consistency with a molecular paradigm, we have met evident discrepancies, making prion diseases a typical abnormality in a Kuhnian sense. This paper summarizes and analyses the main features of the protein-only model.

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