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Name: igor
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Question:
I've heard about the existens of Slow virus in faculty. But I don't finnd the definition anymore. I would like to know the definition of a "slow virus" (transl. from French VIRUS LENT), can I have some example ? Do we know some type of "slow viruses" that wait more than 10 years to reactivate them-selves and make sick the subject ? Do we know the internal mecanism how they wait or is it an external activation ? Can we consider the virus for ZONA as a slow virus ? were on internet can I find virology courses about tis subject ?

Thanks from Igor, côte d'azur, France



Replies:
This isn't exactly my area of expertise; I'm a chemist. I'll take a crack at it anyhow:

"Slow viruses" were proposed to explain some baffling diseases such as kuru. These investigations resulted in at least one Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine, to Carleton Gajdusek. Since that time, the theories have changed as to the identity of the infections agents of kuru and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Now many think that these diseases, among others, can be transmitted by proteinaceous infective agents, or "prions." These "prions" are thought to be natural body proteins that for some reason change their shape, and in so doing induce other proteins to change their shape, messing up the processes of the cell. The prion hypothesis was proposed by Stanley Prusiner, who recently received a Nobel Prize for this work.

So, I think the reason you aren't hearing much about "Slow viruses" is that they are no longer a fovored scientific theory. The slow virus theory has been replaced by the prion theory.

I know nothing about ZONA.

Richard Barrans Jr., Ph.D.



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