Prions

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Not all infectious diseases are transmitted by bacteria or viruses. Some neurological diseases, such as Creutzfeldt-Jaakob disease (CJD) or mad cow disease are in fact caused by agents called Prions, which are of similar size to viruses but are made up of only protein [1] 

Prions have these characteristics:

1.) "The transmissible agent consists of aggregated forms of a specific protein" [2]

2.) These protein aggregates cannot be degraded by the agents that degrade most other proteins [3]

3.) "The protein is largely or completely derived from a cellular protein called PrP, that is normally present in the brain" [4]

So an aggregated form of a protein (that is already present in the brain) is the infectious agent in prion diseases [1]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 J. M. Berg et. al (2007) p 53, Biochemistry, Sixth edition, New York, W.H. Freeman and Company
  2. J. M. Berg et. al (2007) p 53, Biochemistry, Sixth edition, New York, W.H. Freeman and Company
  3. J. M. Berg et. al (2007) p 53, Biochemistry, Sixth edition, New York, W.H. Freeman and Company
  4. J. M. Berg et. al (2007) p 53, Biochemistry, Sixth edition, New York, W.H. Freeman and Company

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