Scientists discover that Alzheimer's can be passed from person to person in groundbreaking study

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By Nasima Khatun

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Scientists have recently discovered that Alzheimer's disease can be passed from person to person in a groundbreaking new study.

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disorder that is characterized by changes in the brain that lead to deposits of certain proteins.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Alzheimer's "causes the brain to shrink and brain cells to eventually die".

Those who have the disease lose their ability to function in their daily lives due to a gradual decline in memory, thinking, behavior, and social skills. The clinic also reported that medication can help to slow down the progression of the illness, but there is currently no cure for it.

Credit: Malcolm P Chapman/Getty

In a groundbreaking discovery, a new study has revealed that Alzheimer’s can be spread from human to human through rare medical accidents.

As per the Guardian, researchers have concluded that a handful of people who received human growth hormones from the pituitary glands of late donors have gone on to develop early-onset Alzheimer’s.

This is possibly due to the contamination of the hormones that would have contained proteins that developed into the disease when implanted in others.

However, scientists have emphasized that there is no evidence to suggest that the disease can be passed between people through other means including close contact or any other activities.

Credit: Westend61/Getty

Professor John Collinge, co-author of the study and director of the MRC Prion Unit, spoke of the findings, stating that this could only occur when people have been "accidentally inoculated."

“We’re not suggesting for a moment you can catch Alzheimer’s disease. This is not transmissible in the sense of a viral or bacterial infection,” Collinge said.

"It’s only when people have been accidentally inoculated, essentially, with human tissue or extracts of human tissue containing these seeds, which is thankfully a very rare and unusual circumstance," he added.

The patients involved in the study were among 1,848 people injected with growth hormones as children which were contaminated with toxic amyloid-beta protein 'seeds', or prions - the same proteins related to the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Five came down with the same rare early-onset form of the dementia condition, with onset as young as 38 years old.

Credit: Monty Rakusen/Getty

This has now been banned and only synthetic hormones are allowed to be administered to people if they should require it.

Speaking of the discovery, Andrew Doig, professor of biochemistry at the University of Manchester, said that despite the seriousness of the findings, there's no need for fear.

“While the new type of Alzheimer’s reported here is of great scientific interest, as it reveals a new way to spread the disease, there is no reason to fear it, as the way in which the disease was caused was stopped over 40 years ago,” Doig said as per the outlet.

"Disease transmission from human brain to brain in this way should never happen again," he added.

Featured Image Credit: Tek Image/Science Photo Library

Scientists discover that Alzheimer's can be passed from person to person in groundbreaking study

vt-author-image

By Nasima Khatun

Article saved!Article saved!

Scientists have recently discovered that Alzheimer's disease can be passed from person to person in a groundbreaking new study.

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disorder that is characterized by changes in the brain that lead to deposits of certain proteins.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Alzheimer's "causes the brain to shrink and brain cells to eventually die".

Those who have the disease lose their ability to function in their daily lives due to a gradual decline in memory, thinking, behavior, and social skills. The clinic also reported that medication can help to slow down the progression of the illness, but there is currently no cure for it.

Credit: Malcolm P Chapman/Getty

In a groundbreaking discovery, a new study has revealed that Alzheimer’s can be spread from human to human through rare medical accidents.

As per the Guardian, researchers have concluded that a handful of people who received human growth hormones from the pituitary glands of late donors have gone on to develop early-onset Alzheimer’s.

This is possibly due to the contamination of the hormones that would have contained proteins that developed into the disease when implanted in others.

However, scientists have emphasized that there is no evidence to suggest that the disease can be passed between people through other means including close contact or any other activities.

Credit: Westend61/Getty

Professor John Collinge, co-author of the study and director of the MRC Prion Unit, spoke of the findings, stating that this could only occur when people have been "accidentally inoculated."

“We’re not suggesting for a moment you can catch Alzheimer’s disease. This is not transmissible in the sense of a viral or bacterial infection,” Collinge said.

"It’s only when people have been accidentally inoculated, essentially, with human tissue or extracts of human tissue containing these seeds, which is thankfully a very rare and unusual circumstance," he added.

The patients involved in the study were among 1,848 people injected with growth hormones as children which were contaminated with toxic amyloid-beta protein 'seeds', or prions - the same proteins related to the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Five came down with the same rare early-onset form of the dementia condition, with onset as young as 38 years old.

Credit: Monty Rakusen/Getty

This has now been banned and only synthetic hormones are allowed to be administered to people if they should require it.

Speaking of the discovery, Andrew Doig, professor of biochemistry at the University of Manchester, said that despite the seriousness of the findings, there's no need for fear.

“While the new type of Alzheimer’s reported here is of great scientific interest, as it reveals a new way to spread the disease, there is no reason to fear it, as the way in which the disease was caused was stopped over 40 years ago,” Doig said as per the outlet.

"Disease transmission from human brain to brain in this way should never happen again," he added.

Featured Image Credit: Tek Image/Science Photo Library