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Professor John Collinge, the head of neurodegenerative disease at University College London, believes Alzheimer's disease can by transmissible from one person to another during invasive medical procedures -but is he right?
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LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In a study published last September, scientists discovered that people who received nerve tissue grafts in the 80's showed a protein in their brains that is normally present in the earliest stages of Alzheimer's disease.
The scientists hypothesized that the patients who received the grafts did so from people who had Alzheimer's and the disease was transported from the cadaver to the recipient.
The discovery led scientists to believe the group with A-beta proteins could have received them from the cadavers, which prompted Collinge to question whether Alzheimer's could be contracted in the same way.
When the 2015 study was released, Collinge stated, "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."
On January 29, Collinge stated his latest findings support the hypothesis that "protein seeds" leading to Alzheimer's could be transferred during invasive procedures such as grafts and injections.
"If there are risks, one would expect them to be related to surgical procedures involving brain tissue and those are relatively rare procedures. Scientists should be thinking about this and whether it is possible to transmit these proteopathic seeds by medical procedures."
To be clear, Collinge explained the hypothesis is just that -an educated guess that has yet to be proven.
"This is an observational study," Collinge described. "We're simply describing what we see in these patients and we are trying to explain that."
The Government's Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, remarked on the September study, stating: "There is no evidence that Alzheimer's disease can be transmitted in humans, nor is there any evidence that Alzheimer's disease can be transmitted through any medical procedure."
While it is clear no one currently states that Alzheimer's is transmitted from person to person through any means but genetics, Collinge continues to study the parallels and is currently working on "two major programmes to develop novel therapies" for a "long-term approach to the understanding of prion disease."
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