Could a prion be used to sufficiently deform a viral protein in order to make the virus it is a part of incapable of reproducing? For example, take the common cold's VP1 protein and turn it into a prion, then inject that prion into someone with a cold. Would this prion ever come into contact with the virus? Would it actually deform the virus? Can we make prions?


closed as primarily opinion-based by anongoodnurse, Chris, MattDMo, ddiez, Bez Dec 27 '14 at 11:48

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    $\begingroup$ Issues I see with this idea is that finding a protein that misfolds the VP1 protein in a reliable way would be hard, and getting those proteins to specific cell types to fight the virus would be hard. $\endgroup$ – user137 Dec 22 '14 at 0:55
  • $\begingroup$ I think you are making many questions together that are independent (e.g. can we make a prion and whether it would be in contact with a virus). The context is too broad. Why don't you try focusing on some question one at a time? $\endgroup$ – ddiez Dec 27 '14 at 10:04

Prions are misfolded "versions" of proteins already present in the genome. These tend to bind to their properly folded counterparts and catalyze their misfolding into prions. Although unlikely, it is not impossible to imagine that they might interact with other macromolecules. That being said, injecting a human with prionic particles for any reason (especially in a clinical trial for the common cold) is EXTREMELY unlikely. Even if you prove that it works in animal models, injecting a person would be considered too risky. Additionally, the "benefit" of that would be marginal - curing the common cold, from which > 99% of people recover even without any medication. Given that there is great risk and very little benefit, we will most likely never know for sure how feasible this is (at least for the common cold). As a concept, it could work, but would be extremely difficult to get right.

  • $\begingroup$ Now I'm confused. What is the difference between binding with a protein in your body and one in a virus? And why would it be risky? Don't prions only affect their protein? This would also work on Ebola, HIV, and any other viral disease. $\endgroup$ – Anthony Dellinger Dec 23 '14 at 11:43

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