What has made prions difficult to control is their infamous durability. Boil water for a few minutes, and all the bacteria and viruses will be gone. Not so for the prion: it will be just fine, ready to infect. How does it fare in a dry heat of 600 degrees C? No problem there, either. How about ionizing radiation? Bring it on...Further details at Scientific American.
The scientists achieved the results in a test tube, but they suspect that lichen power will work in the wild. "While great caution must be exercised in extrapolating in vitro studies to environmental conditions, our data suggest lichens could contribute to prion degradation on the landscape," they wrote, noting that inactivation might occur when prions come into direct contact with the lichens or with nearby soil. The team plans to test the hypothesis and even see if animals are protected from CWD if they eat the lichens.
Photo: Parmelia sulcata, credit to Derrick Ditchburn/U.S. Geological Survey