• "A prion is a unique type of infectious agent, as it is made only of protein. Prions are abnormally-structured forms of a host protein, which are able to convert normal molecules of the protein into the abnormally structured form. Unlike other pathogens, prions are not subject to denaturation by protease, heat, radiation, and formalin treatments.[2] Though the exact mechanisms of their actions and propagation are unknown, it is now commonly accepted that prions are responsible for a number of previously known but little-understood diseases..." EDIT: To make it easier to read, I'll include a glossary. abnormal(ly): not normal, average, typical, or usual Pathogen: germ, bacterium Denaturation: to alter something so that it changes it's original state Protease: any enzyme that begins the breakdown of proteins. Formalin: a liquid consisting of 40% formaldehyde. Propagation: spreading, diffusion Read more here: I'm not sure there's much you can do to destroy them-but I really do not know.
  • Prions are indeed abnormally-folded proteins, which have created stable internal bonds such that they are extremely resistant to heat, acids or bases, or other causes of denaturation. How to destroy them -- since they are very resistant to the usual methods, you just have to keep hammering on them. Autoclaving isn't sufficient by itself, nor is bleach or most detergents; however, a combination of bleach or detergent, plus steam autoclaving, generally does it. Labs which deal with prions have protocols which describe the combination they use, for different contaminated substances; most read something like "wash with sodium hydroxide (NaOH), allowing 10 minutes contact time, followed by thorough rinsing with clear water, hydrated autoclaving at 132degC for 4.5 hours." Not all contaminated surfaces or substances are treated the same way, however -- some won't withstand the preferred solvents or detergents, others won't withstand autoclaving, so there have to be alternate protocols for them.

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