Scrapie has been recognized since the 18th century in Great Britain and Western Europe, but the infectious agent behind the disease was poorly understood until relatively recently. 

The process of characterizing the scrapie agent led to an entirely new class of infectious particles, known as prions, the first infectious agent known to lack nucleic acid. 

Dr. Stanley Prusiner postulated the prion concept in a landmark 1982 paper, “Novel Proteinaceous Particles Cause Scrapie,” which laid the groundwork for understanding scrapie and other TSE.

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