What makes prions the 'zombie protein'?

How can a misfolded protein be behind some of the strangest and deadliest diseases out there?

Flickr user NIAID
  • Prions don't sound so bad at first blush: they're simply proteins that have the wrong shape.
  • They may sound innocuous, but "catching" prions is always fatal, and there is no cure.
  • Curiously, the most famous case of a prion disease outbreak happened in a cannibalistic tribe in Papua New Guinea.
Keep reading Show less
Surprising Science

New study reveals that reincarnation is real — kind of

Nematodes demonstrate that neurons can influence offspring's genetics.

Photo by Jeremy Horner/LightRocket via Getty Images
  • Caenorhabditis elegans nematodes can transmit information about the environment through neurons to future generations.
  • Research from Tel Aviv University pushes back against the "second law of biology," which states that heritable information is segregated from somatic influences.
  • If applicable to humans, this research could have important uses in medicine.
Keep reading Show less
Surprising Science

Teens should be able to get vaccines without consent from parents, say NY lawmakers

A bill in New York would let older kids get vaccinations against their parents' wishes.

Ethan Lindenberger (R), student at Norwalk High School in Norwalk, Ohio before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on March 5, 2019. (Photo credit: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Teens 14 and older should be able to get vaccinated on their own, says a new bill in New York.
  • Lawmakers were inspired by Ethan Lindenberger, an Ohio teen who fought to take vaccines against his mom's wishes.
  • Anti-vaccination attitudes have been blamed for recent measles outbreaks.
Keep reading Show less
Surprising Science

Scientists may have found a way to kill cancer cells without chemotherapy

Chemo is our best response to cancer so far. A novel new therapy could render it obsolete.

A nurse is working in a room where patients undergo chemotherapy treatment, on February 6, 2013, at the Oscar Lambret Center in Lille, northern France, a regional medical unit specializing in cancer treatment, which is part of Lille regional hospital. (Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Researchers at Northwestern have discovered a genetic "kill code" that might enable the destruction of cancer cells.
  • This novel new therapy "downstream" of chemo might destroy cancer cells without affecting the body's immune system.
  • While no animal trials have been conducted, this potential therapy could signal the demise of chemotherapy.
Keep reading Show less
Surprising Science

Eradicating Malaria: The End Game Relies on Scientific Alliances

Despite decades of research, there is no reliable vaccine for malaria. Dr. Philip Eckhoff lays out the strategies and collaborations required to eradicate this disease and the half a million lives it takes each year.

Philip Eckhoff is a

Hertz Foundation Fellow

and recipient of the prestigious Hertz Foundation Grant for graduate study in the applications of the physical, biological and engineering sciences. Eckhoff is Principal Investigator of the disease modeling team at Intellectual Ventures. In this video, he explains what is involved in total global eradication of malaria and how interdisciplinary collaboration is the key to out-thinking and out-maneuvering this disease. With the support of the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation, he pursued a PhD in applied and computational mathematics at Princeton University, receiving his degree in doctorate in 2009.

Keep reading Show less
Sponsored