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What is the difference between a prion and a virus?

Prions are infectious proteins, while viruses are infectious particles containing genetic material.

Prions are unique infectious agents that consist solely of protein and do not contain any genetic material. They are responsible for causing a range of neurodegenerative diseases, including Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and mad cow disease. Prions are able to convert normal proteins into their misfolded, infectious form, leading to the accumulation of these abnormal proteins in the brain and nervous system.

Viruses, on the other hand, are infectious particles that contain genetic material (either DNA or RNA) surrounded by a protein coat. They are much smaller than prions and can infect a wide range of organisms, including animals, plants, and bacteria. Viruses are responsible for a range of diseases, including the common cold, flu, and HIV.

One key difference between prions and viruses is that prions are not destroyed by typical sterilization methods, such as heat or radiation. This makes them particularly difficult to control and has led to concerns about the potential for prion contamination in medical equipment and food products.

In summary, while both prions and viruses are infectious agents, they differ in their composition and mode of infection. Prions are infectious proteins that cause neurodegenerative diseases, while viruses are infectious particles containing genetic material that can infect a wide range of organisms.

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