The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Overview of Prion Diseases. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Hypothesis

A gene for the normal protein (PrPC) has been identified. This has led to the hypothesis that a mutation in this gene (Prnp) somehow makes PrPC more likely to change spontaneously into the PrPRes/PrPSc prion.
Yet another hypothesis is that the prions and the spongy structures they cause are harmless, and thus what actually causes the damage is the depletion of prion proteins.