Editor's Note: Alzheimer's disease and variant
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) (also known as "ALS") are believed to be
caused by proteins taking on primordial shapes instead of the biologically
important evolved forms.
Excerpts: The astonishing complexity and variety of natural proteins
is determined by the unique way in which the various side chains of the
constituent amino acids pack together. (...) In fact, the generic fibrillar
forms of proteins can be regarded as the intrinsic 'polymer' structure
The existence of such structures has enabled proteins to develop a vast
array of biological functions. But their ability to revert to the 'primordial'
structure lingers, because the main chain of the polypeptide is preserved as a
common feature of all natural proteins.