MAD LEMURS A study of lemurs infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), clarifies the pathogenesis of the abnormal proteinase-resistant protein (PrP) or "prion" protein now thought to cause encephalopathic diseases. Also, more zoo animals could have the disease than previously thought (N. Bons et al., "Natural and experimental oral infection of nonhuman primates by bovine spongiform encephalopathy agents," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 96:4046-51, March 30, 1999). The study, which involved more than two dozen experimentally and spontaneously infected lemurs in France, confirms expectations from previous research about prion distribution and brain degeneration, explains National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) researcher Paul Brown, senior author of the report. The 20 lemurs that were spontaneously infected came from three different French primate centers and were all fed beef protein dietary supplements made by a British company. Presumably, the researchers concluded, the beef used--cracklings or...

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