The Prusiner lab that reported a possible treatment regime for vCJD involving currently licensed drugs, has made another important advance in the battle against spongiform encephalopathies. In August 16 Nature David Peretz and colleagues from the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases, University of California, San Francisco, show that recombinant prion protein-specific antibodies inhibit prion propagation and clear cell cultures of prion infectivity.

Perets et al. examined the capacity of several recombinant antibody antigen-binding fragments (Fabs) to inhibit prion propagation in cultured mouse neuroblastoma cells (ScN2a) infected with PrPSc. They found that antibodies binding cell-surface PrPC inhibit PrPSc formation in a dose-dependent manner. The Fab D18 antibody, which recognizes the total population of PrPC molecules, could abolish prion replication and cleared pre-existing PrPSc, suggesting that this antibody may cure established infection.

These results suggest that one, or a combination of antibodies (or possibly even...

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