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The English scholar John Bailey said his wife Iris Murdoch, a prolific, perfectionist novelist and lecturer, became like “a very nice 3-year-old” as her Alzheimer’s disease progressed. The disease made the proteins in her brain “misfold” and collapse, forming clots called amyloids that disrupt normal neurological function.

Misfolding proteins contribute to hundreds of human diseases, from Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (popularly known as Mad Cow Disease) to Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and cystic fibrosis. All are terrifying. And as we don’t know exactly why proteins misfold, we certainly don’t know how to cure these conditions.

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