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A prion was an infectious microscopic particle composed only of proteins. Naturally occurring prions were responsible for several diseases in plants and animals.

In 2373, Julian Bashir was studying prion replication in ganglionic cell clusters. Early that year Bashir and Jake Sisko attended a conference where he said "prion replication could be inhibited by quantum resonance effects." (DS9: "Nor the Battle to the Strong") He would later explain his research to his mother, explaining that he was "working on two studies of prion replication in ganglionic cell clusters." A project which she felt he could do on Earth (DS9: "Doctor Bashir, I Presume") By the end of the year, he would explain to Jake and Nog, who wondered if he would rather be doing something else, he stated that that was the first chance he had to get any research done on his prion project in five months, and that "you couldn't drag me away from here." (DS9: "In the Cards")

The same year, Hagath suggested the use of artificial prions, or likewise a mutagenic retrovirus, as a biogenic weapon, for killing up to 28 million of General Nassuc's species. (DS9: "Business as Usual")

In 3189, a group of Kili refugees were treated at Federation headquarters for a prion disease, causing cascading nervous system failures. They were infected by eating plants on Urna, a planet deserted for centuries. Urna used to be an industrial hub used to process unstable metals, and processing chemicals thinned the atmosphere, causing high concentrations of ultraviolet (UVB) radiation to penetrate to the surface and affect the indigenous biosphere. This radiation altered the conformation of prion-like protein in the native plants into an infectious prion form. To create an antidote, a healthy protein sample was obtained from archived seeds stored on the USS Tikhov. (DIS: "Die Trying")

The term "prion" is first pronounced in a different meaning in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Dauphin", from the character of Anya (Paddi Edwards) who, speaking with La Forge, says: "... dilithium produces an excess of prion production ..."

According to the script for "Business as Usual", prion was pronounced as "PREE-on". [1]

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