An alarming new study has indicated that certain medical procedures could be responsible for planting the “seeds” of Alzheimers disease.
The unsettling possibility was raised by researchers after examining people given growth hormone injections as children.
It was found that exposure to infected tissues or surgical instruments used between individuals put people at risk.
Professor John Collinge, head of neurodegenerative diseases at University College London said, “What we need to consider is that in addition to there being sporadic Alzheimer’s disease and inherited or familial Alzheimer’s disease, there could also be acquired forms of Alzheimer’s disease.”
The concept of the disease being acquired turns the established mode of thinking that it is largely inherited on its head.
Professor Collinge insisted there was no concern that the debilitating disease could be “caught” by being in close proximity to sufferers.
The eight participants, aged between 36 and 51, all succumbed to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) after being exposed to contaminated hormone injections in childhood.
Unusually for their age, autopsies showed seven of the participants harboured misfolded proteins associated with the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
These misfolded proteins known as Prions, lead to debilitating brain disorders, like CJD in humans and BSE in cattle leading to debilitating brain disorders, by triggering further proteins to misfold.
Unfortunately prions are well-known to stick to metal surfaces and be resistant to sterilisation procedures like steam cleaning and formaldehyde.