Nobel Prize in Medicine...Discoverer of Prions Gets The Prize!

The 1997 Nobel Prize in "Physiology or Medicine" went to Dr. Stanley B. Prusiner, the University of California researcher who is credited with the discovery of prions. A prion is an unconventional, transmissible agent (not a virus or a bacterium). Prions are thought to be special proteins that can be transmitted from animal to animal to cause a group of degenerative diseases of the nervous system. These diseases can show up as sporadic, infectious, or inherited disorders. Prions have no genetic material, and how they may do harm is still unknown. They are believed to be the cause of various degenerative diseases of the brain, including mad cow disease, Creutzfeld-Jakob disease.

Prusiner who is 55, received $1million for the prize, as well as considerable notoriety. The Nobel Prize was set up via a trust left by the Swedish inventor - Alfred Nobel. The first prize was awarded on Dec. 10, 1901.

Last Editorial Review: 4/15/2002

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