A study published in the Wednesday, Sept. 9 issue of the journal Nature details an accidental discovery that may help researchers learn how Alzheimer’s Disease, and other forms of dementia, are transmitted. While doing tests on the brains of 8 persons who died and who had received injections of humane growth hormones (HGHs) during their lifetimes, researchers found 7 had the Alzheimer’s protein in their brain.
This study was conducted in the U.K. on persons who had become ill with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) after they’d received human growth hormones during childhood for growth deficiencies. At that time HGHs were made from pituitary glands of deceased humans that were pooled together.
They are now made in a lab.
“Unexpectedly, in an autopsy study of eight individuals (who were) aged 35-51 years, in four we found moderate to severe grey matter and vascular amyloid-beta pathology,” study lead author John Collinge of University College London said.
“It’s important to understand that this relates to a very special situation where people have been injected with essentially extracts of human tissue,” he added. “In no way is this suggesting that Alzheimer’s disease is in any way a contagious disease.”
Some 1800 people in the U.K. between 1958 and 1985 were treated with human growth hormones. It was later discovered that some donors had CJD and the eight persons who contacted and died of CJD had received HGHs from the pituitary glands of those donors who’d had it.
The scientists are studying these results further to see what they can learn about how and why Alzheimer’s develops.