Is Alzheimer’s a Medically Transmittable Disease? The Debate Continues

Is Alzheimer’s a Medically Transmittable Disease? The Debate Continues
In September 2015, a study published in the journal Nature significantly stirred the scientific community and made people around the world understandably alarmed. The research suggested that Alzheimer’s disease might be transmittable through injections of the disease-driving protein amyloid-β. Researchers all over the world now race to further investigate these claims, but meanwhile, the debate rages on. A feature, published in the same journal last week, discussed what the issue is really about. The study that made headlines last year had identified amyloid plaques in brain of patients that had died of the prion-related Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. These people caught the deadly illness when they received human growth hormone from diseased individuals, making John Collinge at The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, one of the senior authors of the study, suspect that seeds of amyloid-β protein could also have been passed on with the human hormone preparations. While the work did not imply that Alzheimer’s could be caught like a cold from sick relatives -- it is not a contagious disease -- it would make blood transfusions, organ donations, and surgical procedures high-risk activities in terms of transmission. So how, exactly, do researchers think that Alzheimer’s might be transmittable? The amyloid-β plaques – as well as other types of protein ag
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