Beautiful Science

PHOTO: PROFESSOR NEIL MABBOTT & DR DAVID DONALDSON, THE ROSLIN INSTITUTE, UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH

Diagnosis of deadly brain conditions could get a boost from new research showing how infectious proteins that cause the disease are spread. The study by researchers from the University of Edinburgh's Roslin Institute reveals how the proteins - called prions - spread from the gut to the brain after a person or animal has eaten contaminated meat. Scientists say their findings could help diagnose prion diseases earlier. These include variant Creutzfeldt- Jakob disease in people and bovine spongiform encephalopathy in cows. This magnified image of the small intestine shows specialised structures called Peyer's patches, which are part of the body's immune system. The researchers showed how deadly prions invade the body through Peyer's patches before infecting the brain.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 14, 2015, with the headline 'Beautiful Science'. Print Edition | Subscribe