Research conducted in the United Kingdom has found for the first time the accidental transmission, through medical treatment, of the protein that causes Alzheimer's disease, a disease until now linked to aging and, to a lesser extent, genetic inheritance.
The discovery of this contamination, whatever the unusual circumstances under which it occurred, highlights the need for extreme precautions, according to the study published in the journal Nature Medicine. The work found that five patients under the age of 55 treated with contaminated growth hormone (derived from cadaveric brain tissue and discarded since 1985) ended up developing the disease regardless of age or genetic inheritance. The hormone was contaminated with the protein beta-amyloid, the accumulation of which is responsible for Alzheimer's disease.
The growth hormone c-hGH, extracted from the pituitary glands of dead people to treat height problems, was given to 1,848 girls and boys in the United Kingdom between 1959 and 1985.
Its use was suspended in 1985 (and replaced with a synthetic hormone) after it was determined that some batches contained infectious proteins that cause Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a brain disorder that often leads to dementia.
Between 2017 and 2018, more than 30 years after this treatment had been discontinued, the authors of the current study analyzed stored samples of c-hGH and found that they were contaminated with beta-amyloid-related diseases decades apart. storage.
When they gave it to the mice, they saw that they developed Alzheimer's disease, so they wondered about the development of these girls and boys.
“We suspected that people who were exposed to this hormone and did not succumb to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and lived longer could develop Alzheimer's disease,” one of the authors of the work explained at a press conference. A study of eight of these cases showed that five of them began to show symptoms of dementia between the ages of 38 and 55 years.
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