The prion diseases are rare and invariably fatal neurodegenerative diseases characterized by a unique, protein‐only pathogenesis. Mechanistically, the prion diseases result from the coerced conversion of a protease‐sensitive form of the cellular prion protein (PrPC) into a protease‐resistant infectious form (PrPres). This chapter reviews the past, present, and potentially future prion disease treatment strategies. This chapter begins with an introduction to prion diseases, the misfolding of prion proteins and what is known about this process, and then proceeds to discuss approaches for treatments. Regarding approaches to treat prion diseases, we discuss (1) small molecule inhibitors, (2) antiprion protein antibodies, (3) prion gene disruption, (4) targeting of the unfolded protein response, and (5) heterologous prion proteins. We elaborate on using heterologous prion proteins to treat prion diseases, as this is an area that we are pursuing. The chapter ends with thoughts on the future direction of prion disease treatment strategies and how these strategies might be applicable to other neurodegenerative diseases involving protein misfolding. The increasing awareness of the role of protein misfolding in many neurodegenerative processes makes the development of an effective treatment strategy for prion diseases a high priority.
Part of the book: Prion