WHY PRIONS ARE STILL TERRIFYING
[Originally published on BioGPS's Gene-of-the-Week Series on July 7, 2014.]
Today’s funerary practices might include trends like eco-friendly burial shrouds and artificial reefs made from cremated remains, but for the Fore tribespeople in Papua New Guinea, their traditional mortuary ritual involved a different custom… cannibalism. Although discontinued since the 1960s, the Fore believed that consumption of one’s deceased relatives allowed the departed souls to reach the land of the dead, and be reborn. However, this practice unknowingly created the perfect conditions for a severe epidemic of an incurable, debilitating—and fatal—neurological disorder known as kuru.