The Journal of general virology

Titanium dioxide photocatalytic inactivation of prions.

PMID 16963773


Prions are postulated to be the infectious agents of a family of transmissible, fatal, neurodegenerative disorders affecting both humans and animals. The possibility of prion transmission constitutes a public-health risk that confronts regulatory authorities everywhere. The main problem in handling prions is the fact that they are extremely resistant to standard decontamination methods. Thus, the use of harsh and expensive practices to destroy prions is inevitable. The development of applicable and efficient prion-inactivation practices is still highly important for the prevention of accidental transmission. In the search for effective and environmentally friendly methods to eliminate organic compounds and bacteria, much attention has been focused on the so-called advanced oxidation processes. These are based on the formation of hydroxyl radicals, which are known to possess a high reductive potential. This study tested the potential of titanium dioxide, an inexpensive and completely inert reagent, to inactivate prions in a heterogeneous photocatalytic process. Initial in vitro experiments were followed by a bioassay with the scrapie strain 263K in Syrian hamsters. The results obtained from this study indicate that titanium dioxide photocatalytic treatment of scrapie-infected brain homogenates reduces infectivity titres significantly.

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