Kuru is a rare and fatal neurological disease that affects humans. It is caused by an infectious prion, which is a type of protein that can cause other proteins in the brain to misfold and clump together, leading to nerve damage and ultimately death. Kuru was first discovered in the Fore people of Papua New Guinea, who practiced a ritualistic form of cannibalism in which they ate the brains and nervous systems of their deceased relatives. This led to an epidemic of kuru in the Fore population, which lasted for several decades. Today, kuru is extremely rare and is mostly found in isolated communities in Papua New Guinea. However, research into the disease has yielded important insights into the way that prions work and how they can cause neurodegenerative diseases in humans and animals. There is currently no cure for kuru, and treatment is focused on relieving symptoms and improving quality of life for patients. However, research into kuru and other prion diseases has led to the development of new therapies and treatments for related conditions, such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which can cause similar symptoms and is also caused by prions. Overall, the study of kuru has contributed greatly to our understanding of the brain and the mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative diseases. By continuing to research and learn more about kuru and similar conditions, we can work towards developing more effective treatments and ultimately find a cure.

From: Neurobiology

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Editor-in-chief: Zheng Jiang, Department of Neuroscience, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Publication Type: Open Access Journal
Description: The brain, spinal cord, and nerves make up the nervous system. Together they control all the workings of the body. When something goes wrong with a part of your nervous system, you can have trouble moving, speaking, swallowing, breathing, or learning. You can also have problems with your memory, senses, or mood.