PRION 2016 TOKYO| In Conjunction with:Asian Pacific Prion Symposium 2016

Message from the President

President Hidehiro MIZUSAWA, M.D., Ph.D.
National Center Hospital, National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry (NCNP)

I am delighted to announce that for four days from the 10th to 13th of May 2016, the world’s only and largest international conference on prion diseases, PRION 2016 TOKYO, will be held at the National Center of Sciences Building (Tokyo). The theme this year is “Overcoming Prion Diseases,” which are the most horrific hereditary and fatal zoonotic infections prevalent in our world today.

Prion diseases, such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) seen in humans, are zoonotic infections that are observed in many animals.

CJD is a rapidly progressive degenerative brain disorder that leads to dementia, and results in death around several months to a year after onset. It is a lethal disease with a 100% fatality rate once contracted, and there are also hereditary forms. CJD occurs when a normal prion protein transforms into a transmissible (infective) abnormal prion protein, which then impairs nerve cells.

In 1996, the world was shocked when some people who ate meat from a cow infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, also known as mad cow disease) developed a human form of CJD (variant CJD). It was not simply an issue of a human disease developing via an infection from an animal; the incident drove home the fact that the very safety of our food was threatened.

The fact remains that mechanisms of the prion proteins such as how they are transformed into an abnormal form and how they are transmitted, particularly through oral infection, are still far from being completely elucidated. However, recent studies on proteins that cause Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease - namely Aβprotein, Tau protein and Alpha-synuclein - have confirmed they all also have characteristics of prion proteins, and that these proteins self-propagate when infected in the brains of animals. These findings suggest that Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases may also become infective one day.

Now especially, the entire world must work together to overcome these horrendous prion diseases. I believe that Japan can lead the way in the fight against prion diseases. PRION 2016 is the annual meeting of NeuroPrion, which is the only worldwide international society on prion diseases led by European nations. This is the first time for the annual meeting to be held in Asia, and I am anticipating it will be a fruitful one that leads to tremendous advancements in research on prion diseases. I also hope it will help people in Japan and around the world to gain a better understanding of these diseases and the need to conquer them, so that we can soon find a way to defeat prion diseases. I am wholeheartedly committed to ensuring the success of PRION 2016, which is fortunately being held in conjunction with the Asian Pacific Prion Symposium 2016 led by Japan.

I hope that everyone will contribute to making PRION 2016 TOKYO a great success and a meaningful meeting for all involved. I look forward to welcoming a wide range of participants from Japan and around the world to PRION 2016 TOKYO.