The first symptoms begin after just a few sleepless nights, with shaking, sweating and overwhelming anxiety. They end only after months of agonising open-eyed deterioration when the victim finally falls into a coma-like state of exhaustion and then dies. Fatal Familial Insomnia is a rare, inherited disease that has afflicted one noble Venetian family for centuries, striking at random and passing from generation to generation like a deadly dynastic curse. The cause? A rogue protein called a prion, which is impossible to destroy and is also responsible for Mad Cow Disease and scrapie in sheep. In this groundbreaking work of scientific detection, D. T. Max pins down this most mutable and maddening of enemies and tells a story that is at once enlightening and spell-binding.