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Letters to Nature
Nature 222, 90 - 91 (05 April 1969); doi:10.1038/222090a0

Susceptibility of Scrapie Agent to Ionizing Radiation

E. J. FIELD, F. FARMER, E. A. CASPARY & GRETA JOYCE

MRC Demyelinating Diseases Unit, 13 Framlington Place, Newcastle upon Tyne 2.

THE infective agent of scrapie, a progressive encephalopathy endemic in sheep, has recently been the subject of much speculation. Its remarkable stability in a variety of physical and chemical conditions and in particular its resistance to ionizing radiation have given rise to a number of heterodox ideas as to the nature and mode of action of the agent1–3. The resistance of the scrapie agent to both ionizing and ultraviolet irradiation has led Alper and her colleagues4 to state that “it does not depend on a nucleic acid for its ability to replicate”. Here we present independent confirmation of Alper's results but also discuss the difficulties in accepting her far-reaching conclusions.

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