According to reports Friday, London researchers have discovered something quite surprising. In raare cases, it may be possible that Alzheimer’s can be passed from person to person, not like the spread of a cold virus, but through contaminated instruments or treatments.
As reported by USA Today, Neurologists were studying the brains of people who had developed a rare condition called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease after being exposed years ago to injections of contaminated human growth hormone that had been donated by elderly patients.
The doctors were shocked to see that most of the patients also had amyloid protein in their brains, the protein associated with Alzheimer’s.
“What we found, very much to our surprise, was that of the eight patients, four had quite significant, some severe, deposition of amyloid protein, the Alzheimer’s protein,” neurologist John Collinge says, per Time. Only one patient showed no sign of the protein.
The debiliating brain disease is currently thought to be caused by genes and the environment but now scientists think it’s possible that amyloid protein “seeds” may stick to metal surfaces and in rare cases be passed on to others.
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However, scientists caution that this is a theory and has not been proven and that people should not worry about catching Alzheimer’s through casual contact or even during surgery or other medical procedures. It’s simply an area that needs to be investigated further.
“The poor queen,” Mead said.
“The headlines were a bit of a shock this morning,” said Simon Mead, a researcher at the Institute of Neurology at the University College London. His study, published in the latest volume of Nature, inspired those front-page shockers, published beside news of Queen Elizabeth becoming the longest-serving British monarch.
n fact, the study contradicts much of what’s in those “bombshell” headlines. In the study, the authors conclude that there is “no suggestion that Alzheimer’s disease is a contagious disease and no supportive evidence from epidemiological studies that Alzheimer’s disease is transmissible, notably by blood transfusions.” The scientists called for more research on a phenomenon they discovered among a tiny number of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease patients who had once been treated with the same human growth hormone.
UK researchers, who describe their finding in Nature.