The transmissible agent of scrapie has not yet been characterized but it is commonly referred to as a virus (Andrewes & Pereira, 1967). However, on the basis of its resistance to acetylethyleneimine, Stamp (1959) suggested that the agent might not contain nucleoprotein. Pattison (1965), reporting on the effect of formalin, expressed the opinion that the agent might not be a virus and now believes it to be, or to be associated with, a small basic protein (Pattison & Jones, 1967). In a study of the effect of ionizing and ultraviolet irradiation Alper, Haig & Clarke (1966) and Alper (1967) suggested that the agent may lack nucleic acid. On the basis of these results and the inactivation of the scrapie agent with urea and phenol, Gibbons & Hunter (1967) have proposed a membrane hypothesis for its nature. Other workers (e.g. Adams & Caspary, 1967) still believe that the agent is essentially viral in character.


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