Neurosurgery could spread protein linked with Alzheimer’s, study finds

Surgical instruments employed in brain operations needs to be treated so they are not contaminated with proteins connected with Alzheimer’s, based on scientists who found evidence that they may be spread by certain surgical procedures.

The researchers urged doctors to decontaminate neurosurgical tools more thoroughly for a precautionary measure to cut back the possibility of spreading abnormal proteins known to build up inside brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

Prof John Collinge, director within the Scientific research Council prion unit at University College London, declared while Alzheimer’s disease hasn’t been contagious, there were a slim risk that harmful proteins that drive the virus could spread through rocket science and various rare procedures.

“We are not aware if any cases of Alzheimer’s are based on medical or oral surgical procedures, in my view we must please take a precautionary approach,” Collinge told reporters in the press briefing.

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Alzheimer’s disease affects more than half one million individuals Britain. The disease impairs memory and minds and is particularly characterised through the buildup of toxic protein deposits during the brain. So-called amyloid beta plaques form between nerve cells, while tau protein tangles form into the nerve cells.

The UCL team investigated only a few patients who died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in the united kingdom after being managed with contaminated growth hormones stripped away from cadavers. The hormone was taken from numerous people’s pituitary glands, pooled together and injected into about 30,000 children, predominantly with stunted growth, between 1958 and 1985.

Most of the CJD patients also experienced a condition called cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA), a brain disorder connected with Alzheimer’s disease. In CAA, amyloid plaques build from the brain’s veins, rather then between nerve cells, as is whithin Alzheimer’s.

The researchers tracked down old vials within the CJD-contaminated hormone and tested them for precursors of amyloid and tau proteins. The sole vials that tested positive contained hormones extracted through the particular method employed for the British patients’ injections.

To test if thez contaminated hormone could spread disease, the scientists injected it directly into the brains of mice that had been genetically modified to being able to make human amyloid beta proteins. The mice soon developed clumps of amyloid beta and cerebral amyloid angiopathy. They believe amyloid beta “seeds” that contaminated the hormone triggered the organization of plaques once injected to the brain.

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While the mice didn’t develop Alzheimer’s disease, the study reported as the name indicated implies that amyloid beta “seeds” could potentially be spread by certain medical procedures and might theoretically bring about disease.

“With CAA and in all probability with Alzheimer’s disease could possibly be certain circumstances, though hopefully rare, that transmission within the pathology may appear,” said Collinge. Studies discovered no evidence that Alzheimer’s may be spread by blood transfusions, but Collinge noticed that many recipients of blood transfusions don’t live long enough to qualify afterwards for dementia in order to develop.

“Transfusion isn’t an major risk in my opinion, I’m more interested in neurosurgical instruments,” he was quoted saying. “I think it is very important carry out further research about this and develop new tips on how to remove these seeds, so any risk that is certainly you can find removed,” he stated.

“We should be doing epidemiological studies to find out whether you will find any link between these surgical procedure and Alzheimer’s disease. We can easily also think about better methods to decontaminate surgical instruments to cut out this risk. It’s just a small risk, in addition to a chances of something happening Many years after exposure, however in my view you wish to be going after research to clear out that risk.

“No one should not have neurosurgery resulting from this,” Collinge added. “But if we can avoid any transmission of CAA or Alzheimer’s disease we have to take action, even if it is just a small number of those people who are at an increased risk.”

In an accompanying article, David Holtzman and Tien-Phat Huynh at Washington University in St Louis write: “It is important that surgical instruments that may into touching man’s brain are appropriately treated to get rid of seeds of misfolded forms of peptides and proteins.”

But Bart de Strooper, director with the UK Dementia Research Institute at UCL, who had been not in the study, said: “It is attainable that neurosurgical instruments develop into contaminated with amyloid seeds, and likely with tau or one a lot of other abnormally folded proteins that creates neurodegeneration which include alpha-synuclein in Parkinson’s disease.

“However, surgeons already take precautions to stop contamination by prions and others really should be sufficient to avoid also these kinds of contamination. There is absolutely no reason to postpone or decline too difficult in accordance with the current evidence.”


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