Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

More evidence that Alzheimer's-like brain damage can be 'caught'

By AusSMC

It is possible that amyloid beta pathology, a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, can be transmitted through contaminated human growth hormone.

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A study published in Nature (see the link below) found that specific batches of contaminated human growth hormone, linked to the death of several patients from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) were also contaminated with amyloid beta protein, a substance thought to play a role in the development of Alzheimer's disease. When the samples were injected into mice, they produced a amyloid beta pathology, providing evidence that amyloid beta pathology can be transmitted through human growth hormone. Previous research had suggested this may be possible after patients who died of CJD were also found to have brain damage similar to that found in Alzheimer's disease.


Dr Ian Musgrave is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Medicine, School of Medicine Sciences, within the Discipline of Pharmacology at the University of Adelaide.
"Alzheimer’s disease is the major dementing disease in Australia and the world, taking a terrible toll on patients and their families.

One of the hallmarks of AD is the accumulation of an insoluble protein in the brain, beta amyloid. Beta amyloid is toxic to brain cells, and is thought to be important in the development of AD, yet every therapy we have thrown at AD based on removing amyloid has failed, prompting a rethink of its importance.

These new finding bring beta amyloid back into the spotlight. We have known the beta...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.