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Prion. 2009 Oct-Dec; 3(4): 185–186.
PMCID: PMC2807688

Prion Special Issue Related to the III International Symposium on “The New Prion Biology: Basic Science, Diagnosis and Therapy”

The year 2009 has been a crucial year for Prion, as our journal entered this year being listed in PubMed Medline, Scopus and ISI databases. Our inclusion in these databases signifies recognition of Prion as a full fledged member of the community of the respected biomedical journals. This comes as a result of dedication and hard work of our publishers, editorial board members, authors and reviewers, who altogether made the very existence and timely functioning of Prion possible. Our thanks go to all of you, as well as to all our readers, whose needs and interests necessitate our existence, and to whom we sincerely hope to continue being useful and faithful.

It might be a coincidence, but a very meaningful coincidence then, that we are concluding this remarkable year with a special issue devoted to III International Symposium on “The New Prion Biology: Basic Science, Diagnosis and Therapy,” that occurred at Venice, Italy on April 2–4, 2009. This excellent meeting, organized by Catia Sorgato and Adriano Aguzzi, outlined newly emerging frontiers of prion studies. Location matters, and beautiful Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti, housing Istituto Veneto di Science, Lettere et Arti (see Fig. 1), has provided an appropriate environment for discussing research areas that seemed so foreign to the traditional way of biomedical thinking and so intimately related to it at the same time, as is art of Renaissance to its medieval origins. Venice was gorgeous even at rain, but we were even more inspired by what we have learned in the meeting room than by what surrounded it. The symposium program, composed with precision and executed with elegance by Catia and her helpers, addressed the trickiest questions of the prion field. We therefore felt that this would be fair to share our excitement and enlightenment with the whole community of Prion readers. It is hard to bring the Venice atmosphere to our pages, but we hope that a series of papers presented by some of the meeting participants and published in this issue of Prion will be able to transcend the scientific atmosphere of this remarkable gathering that we all enjoyed.

Figure 1
Participants of the III International Symposium on “The New Prion Biology: Basic Science, Diagnosis and Therapy” in the front yard of Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti during a break.

The series of papers based on the Venice meeting materials include the Mini-Review by G.W. Zamponi and P.K. Stys, as well as the Mini-Review by G.R. Mallucci, addressing prion roles in neuroprotection and/or neurodegeneration. K.A.B. Kellett and N.B. Hooper address a connection between the prion protein and Alzheimer disease. The Mini-Review by M.C. Sorgato, C. Peggion and A. Bertoli is focused on the biological functions of the mammalian prion protein. C. Krammer, H.M. Schätzl and I. Vorberg describe prion-like propagation of the cytosolic protein aggregates in the cell culture models. The Mini-Review by F. Benetti and G. Legname is focused on the de novo generation of mammalian prions. N. Fernandez-Borges, J. de Castro and J. Castilla review the use of in vitro approaches in studying prion transmission barriers. Finally, K. Almstedt, S. Nyström, K.P.R. Nilsson and P. Hammarström present a Research Paper using new detection techniques for uncovering the relationship between the prion amyloid fibers and morphologically disordered aggregates.

Certainly publications included in this issue cover only a subset of the meeting materials. Excellent talks by some invited speakers (U. Agrimi, A. Aguzzi, K. Ashe, B. Chesebro, M. Newmann, P. Nicotera, M. Nuvolone, R. Riek, G. Telling, C. Weissmann, J. Weissman, D. Westaway and G. Zanussi), covering a variety of topics from amyloid nature of secretory granules to prion species barrier and molecular basis of prion strains, are not presented as these data either were/are being published in the other journals, or are not ready for publication yet. Also, we have not had enough space to cover selected talks and poster presentations, of which many were of high quality and importance. However, we hope that a sample of papers included in this issue would provide our readers with a representative picture of the topics and data discussed at the meeting. Thanks are due to all speakers and their co-authors who agreed to participate in this special issue, and of course to Catia and Adriano, not only for organizing the symposium, but also for helping us to reach the speakers and assemble this set of papers.

In order to properly place the symposium materials into a framework of the ongoing related research in the prion field, this issue also contains a number of papers coming from the labs that have not participated at the meeting but are working on the similar topics. These include the Commentary & View by K.C. Gough et al. on prion detection in milk and research papers by A.D. Steele et al. on the neuroprotective properties of mammalian prion protein and by S. Shibata et al. on prion-destabilizing mutations in the yeast prion protein. All papers together compose the issue that we are happy to offer to our readers at the end of this special year.


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