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Misfolded proteins implicated in more brain diseases

Alzheimer’s, other disorders show similarity to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and other prion infections

By
1:01pm, September 9, 2015
Amyloid-beta in the brain

BUILDUP  Amyloid-beta (brown) accumulated in the front of the brain in a person who received injections of cadaver-derived growth hormone as a child, suggesting that the injections were contaminated with A-beta. 

In some brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, distorted proteins behave like infectious agents, spreading among brain cells and corrupting other proteins. New studies suggest that such diseases should be classified among disorders caused by the infectious particles known as prions.

Classic prion infections, such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, are fatal. Some scientists hope that recasting Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative disorders as prion diseases may help reveal ways to halt or prevent neural destruction. Yet others caution that this radical reclassification may unnecessarily evoke fear.

Mindful of public panic, researchers are quick to say that there is no evidence that Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases can be transmitted through normal everyday contact. “There is not one iota of evidence whatsoever that infectivity can occur from one individual to another,” says cell biologist and neuroscientist

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