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Name: Kristin L.
Status: Student
Age: 15
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2002


Question:
Does the irradiation process affect the Mad Cow disease? ...like the irradiation of red meats is being evaluated, would this process kill the Mad Cow disease?



Replies:
The problem with Mad Cow is that it is not caused by a living entity. It is caused by a prion which is an altered form of a natural protein (as far as the current research shows). This is why we refer to prions as "infectious particles" instead of organisms. If the irradiation can denature the protein and inactivate it, it might work. But, I am not sure anyone knows for sure.

vanhoeck


Not likely unless the radiation degraded the meat beyond recognition. Our best understanding of Mad Cow disease is that it is caused by proteins. Irradiation kills germs by damaging their DNA. Proteins are much less sensitive to radiation damage, so the levels of radiation used to sterilize food probably will not be sufficient to protect against protein-based diseases.

Richard E. Barrans Jr., Ph.D.
Assistant Director
PG Research Foundation, Darien, Illinois


Highly unlikely!
Peter Faletra Ph.D.
Assistant Director
Science Education
Office of Science
Department of Energy


Irradiation can effectively kill bacteria to combat food poisoning but it is ineffective against proteins, such as the prion (a 'wrongly' folded protein) that causes mad cow disease.

Trudy Wassenaar



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