A novel replicating agent (IFDO) was isolated from ileal fluid. Growth occurred under aerobic and anaerobic conditions, and was faster at 37°C than at room temperature. The doubling time was 15.8 min. Colonies were dark brown in colour and occurred beneath the surface of agar after conventional surface inoculation. Provisional data indicate that the agent may be a normal intestinal commensal. The agent was remarkably resistant to inactivation by steam at 134°C, formaldehyde and glutaraldehyde; it was relatively resistant to ionising radiation, and it was filterable through membranes with a nominal pore diameter of 10 nm. Such properties, with the exception of growth in cell-free medium, are shared by “unconventional agents” such as those of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and scrapie. Further comparison of the properties of the intestinal agent and of slow viruses revealed additional shared characteristics, including resistance to proteinase K and trypsin, and inactivation by guanidine thiocyanate, diethyl pyrocarbonate, phenol and sodium hydroxide. The agent differs from that of scrapie in being inactivated by ethidium bromide, zinc nitrate, EDTA, hydroxylamine in the presence Sarkosyl, and, under certain circumstances, by ribonuclease. Broth cultures of the agent contained particles possessing considerable size heterogeneity. The smaller filterable particles were generally more susceptible to inactivation, did not survive autoclaving, and were inactivated by papaya protease and lipase. It is possible that the replicating agent may be formed by crystallisation from constituents of the medium, and not by a biological process. This does not exclude the postulated relationship to slow viruses.


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