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Preface/Front Matter

Stanley B. Prusiner


Studies of prions seem to be rapidly expanding. The widespread recognition that prions exist and that they are different from all other infectious pathogens has aroused considerable interest among scientists. The possibility that bovine prions have spread from cattle with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) to humans in Great Britain and other parts of Europe continues to worry physicians, public health officials, and politicians. Despite the fact that molecular investigations of prions only began in 1982 with the first report of the prion protein PrP 27-30, knowledge of prions has increased steadily. With the isolation of PrP 27-30, the application of modern molecular biological approaches, immunologic techniques, and structural biological studies became possible.

This book was assembled with the hope of stimulating young investigators to enter the field of prion biology. We hope that it will also provide an authoritative source for more senior investigators who wish to pursue investigations on prions or who find themselves having to lecture to students on the subject. Because of the size constraints for this book imposed by the publisher, there are many investigators who have made important contributions to prion biology but could not be asked to write chapters: To these individuals, the editor apologizes. Instead, a representative group of authors, who have contributed substantially to the study of prions over the past decade, were selected to participate in this undertaking.

The five chapters at the beginning of this book were written to provide a proper introduction for those not already schooled in prion

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