Prions are comprised principally of aggregates of a misfolded host protein and cause fatal transmissible neurodegenerative disorders of mammals, such as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans and bovine spongiform encephalopathy in cattle. Prions pose significant public health concerns through contamination of blood products and surgical instruments, and can resist conventional hospital sterilization methods. Prion infectivity binds avidly to surgical steel and can efficiently transfer infectivity to a suitable host, and much research has been performed to achieve effective prion decontamination of metal surfaces. Here, we exploit the highly sensitive Standard Steel-Binding Assay (SSBA) to perform a direct comparison of a variety of commercially available decontamination reagents marketed for the removal of prions, alongside conventional sterilization methods. We demonstrate that the efficacy of marketed prion decontamination reagents is highly variable and that the SSBA is able to rapidly evaluate current and future decontamination reagents.
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