Alzheimer’s an aging brain disease is a devastating illness that results in problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. The exact cause behind Alzheimer’s is unknown, although increasing age has been found to be a risk factor. Most people affected by this disease develop symptoms after age 65. However, a shocking case arose three years ago when eight patients passed away from Alzheimer’s at a relatively young age. All eight patients were in their 30s and 40s at the time of their passing.
Research into the astonishing early death from Alzheimer’s
The cases led to further investigation, which was followed by extensive research. John Collinge, a neurologist at the University of College London in the United Kingdom, and leader of the research told reporters during a media briefing, “It is a new way of thinking about the condition.” Collinge further stated, “This was unexpected and completely out of proportion what you’d expect to see in that age group.”
Astounding autopsy findings
When autopsies were performed, Collinge and his colleagues discovered an alarming collection of clumps in the brains of these eight patients. The patients had all died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease or CJD, which is a fatal brain disorder. Amyloid-β (Aβ) is the key protein that has been found to be linked to Alzheimer’s disease. All eight patients were found to have extensive collections of this protein in their brain tissue and brain circulation. None of the patients had any associated genetic risk factor that would explain the early disease onset and subsequent death.
Discovery of a common risk factor
The research led to the finding of a surprising common factor between the eight patients. All of them had growth hormone deficiency problems as a child and had undergone growth hormone therapy by injection of Human Growth Hormone retrieved from a common cadaver. The research group developed a hypothesis that all of these patients were somehow victims of unknown transfer of Alzheimer’s from HGH contaminated with Aβ seeds as well as with prions.
To prove this hypothesis, the researchers initiated the process of identification and biochemical analysis of archived vials of the contaminated HGH. Some of the HGH vials to which the eight patients were exposed had significant levels of Aβ40, Aβ42, and tau proteins.
Two groups of mice were compared, with one group containing genetically modified mice modeled with Alzheimer’s disease and the other group was injected with the same contaminated growth hormone. The researchers assessed the development of the plaques in these two groups of mice.
The brains from the two groups of mice had similar pathology as found in an Alzheimer patient’s tissue. Injection of the cadaver growth hormone produced the same pathology as the mice injected with the Alzheimer’s tissue, the team found. The study confirmed that these proteins could be transmitted via growth hormones and lead to the growth of Aβ plaques. This proved that human transmission of Alzheimer’s disease is possible.
The findings of the study demonstrate the need for a further review of the risk of iatrogenic transmission of Alzheimer’s disease. For more on HGH go here!