There is a high probability of being infected by Alzheimer’s disease if a person undergoes certain medical procedures. A team of British scientists found that at least in one unusual circumstance, seeds of the Alzheimer ’s disease may actually be transmitted from one person to another.
A team of scientists, led by neuroscientist John Hardy of the University College London, found that six people who had died of the rare but deadly Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease, contracted Alzheimer’s disease after receiving treatment contaminated with hormones associated with Alzheimer’s. The findings now cast the spotlight whether certain medical procedures, including blood transfusions, brain surgery and invasive dental treatment, are safe from contaminated tissues left in surgical equipment. The scientists’ study is published in the September issue of the journal Nature.
Speaking with The Independent ahead of the publication, Professor John Collinge, head of neurodegenerative diseases at University College London, said that in addition to the sporadic Alzheimer’s disease and inherited or familial Alzheimer’s disease, there could also be acquired forms of Alzheimer’s disease.
“You could have three different ways you have these protein seeds generated in your brain. Either they happen spontaneously, an unlucky event as you age, or you have a faulty gene, or you’ve been exposed to a medical accident. That’s what we’re hypothesizing,” Collinge told The Independent.
Collinge, however, stressed that their hypothesis should not stop anyone from undergoing surgery or taking care of people with Alzheimer’s. “It’s important to emphasise that this relates to a very special situation where people have been injected essentially with extracts of human tissue. In no way are we suggesting that Alzheimer’s is a contagious disease. You cannot catch Alzheimer’s disease by living with or caring for someone with the disease,” Collinge explained.