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Medical Procedures Reveal Groundbreaking Evidence of Alzheimer's Transmission Among Humans

Transmission of Alzheimer's

By Jafri AlamPublished 3 months ago 4 min read
Medical Procedures Reveal Groundbreaking Evidence of Alzheimer's Transmission Among Humans
Photo by Matteo Vistocco on Unsplash

Researchers at University College London have presented compelling evidence of the transmission of Alzheimer's disease from one individual to another. In a handful of extremely rare instances, scientists have demonstrated how a treatment involving human growth hormone can inadvertently transfer harmful proteins to children, resulting in the early onset of Alzheimer's. During the late 1950s and for approximately twenty-five years thereafter, doctors occasionally administered cadaver-derived human growth hormone (c-hGH) to children with specific growth concerns. This hormone, extracted from the pituitary glands of deceased individuals, was administered to children who fell below the average height range, as reported by New Atlas.

The relationship between growth hormone and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease—

Over time, a significant number of children who were administered the growth hormone ended up developing a severe brain condition known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. This particular ailment is a consequence of the presence of misfolded toxic proteins called prions. In the mid-1980s, compelling evidence emerged linking c-hGH to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Scientists discovered that certain samples of c-hGH contained these harmful prions, leading to the onset of brain disease in otherwise healthy children. In order to address this issue, they transitioned to a safer, artificially produced version of the growth hormone, as reported by New Atlas. Recently, a team of researchers conducted an examination of archived brain tissue samples from individuals who had received the growth hormone and subsequently succumbed to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Interestingly, they discovered indications of Alzheimer's disease within these samples. The presence of an unusually high level of amyloid proteins in the deceased patients, which is a clear indication of Alzheimer's disease, has raised the question of whether Alzheimer's can be transmitted from one individual to another, similar to other prion diseases. Due to the fact that these patients passed away at a young age from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, it was difficult for researchers to determine if they would have eventually developed Alzheimer's. This information was reported by New Atlas. However, a subsequent study revealed that some of the c-hGH samples exhibited an accumulation of amyloid proteins. When tested on animals, mice that were administered the contaminated growth hormone displayed symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

The team that worked in this case has emphasized that the discoveries could hold significant implications in comprehending and addressing Alzheimer's disease. As per the researchers, the study further reinforces the notion that the disease shares similarities with prion disease, including the mechanism through which the associated proteins propagate throughout the brain.

The researchers observed that it remained uncertain whether these patients would eventually exhibit symptoms of Alzheimer's. However, they referenced additional studies which indicated the presence of amyloid-beta in certain hormone batches, and administering these batches to mice resulted in the onset of Alzheimer's-like disease. Furthermore, they highlighted that the replacement of the cadaver-derived human growth hormone procedure with a synthetic growth hormone eliminated the risk of transmitting CJD.

Professor John Collinge emphasized that the patients we mentioned received a particular medical treatment that is no longer in use. This treatment involved injecting patients with substances that were later found to be contaminated with disease-related proteins. However, the identification of amyloid-beta pathology transmission in these exceptional cases should prompt us to reassess preventive measures against accidental transmission through other medical or surgical procedures. By doing so, we can effectively avoid similar incidents from happening in the future.

Discovering the initial instance of Alzheimer's disease transmission between individuals—

To delve deeper into the matter, the team conducted a study on a group of eight patients who had recently been referred to the National Prion Clinic in London due to neurological issues. These patients had all received c-hGH treatment during their childhood and currently ranged in age from thirty-eight to fifty-five years old. Among these eight patients, five were diagnosed with early-onset dementia. It is important to note that there were no indications of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in these cases. All five patients met the criteria for an Alzheimer's diagnosis, and interestingly, they did not display any genetic predisposition for early-onset Alzheimer's. Andrew Doig from the University of Manchester acknowledges the thoroughness and caution of the recent findings. However, he advises against drawing broader conclusions based solely on these eight exceptionally rare cases.


About the Creator

Jafri Alam

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