The Mutagen Hypothesis

Author:  Anya Oleynik
Institution:  George Washington University

In 1997, Stanley Prusiner was awarded the Nobel Prize for his prion hypothesis, which is still used today to describe the propagation of some of the deadliest diseases that affect the central nervous system. However, the prion hypothesis remains controversial, as it does not adequately describe the mechanism by which infection occurs, inheritance of diseases such as CJD, or variations among the infected proteins (i.e. "prions"). I propose a counter argument to the prion hypothesis, the "mutagen hypothesis," to explain the uncertain aspects of pathogenesis of these diseases. This new hypothesis is supported by and explains findings from previous experiments performed by other scientists – findings that the prion hypothesis failed to explain.