In the past few decades, a number of health conditions have grown significantly around the world, some of which have also been responsible for causing a large number of deaths. Recently, Alzheimer’s disease, which affects over fifty million adults aged sixty-five and over, has caught a lot of attention as it is increasingly rising among older populations.
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the forms of dementia, which is an umbrella term used for neurodegenerative disorders that can worsen over time.
A person with any type of dementia tends to lose the ability to perform the simplest everyday activities such as reading, writing, tying shoelaces, or driving. Often, memory loss is the first symptom of dementia that appears in most of the patients.
Over time, many people also lose important memories of their lives and may not even remember their own family members and friends.
Alzheimer’s is the most commonly diagnosed form of the disease. Therefore, there has been a lot of research on it in the past few years. Though scientists have investigated the disease and its development more thoroughly than before, the exact cause of it is still unknown.
According to the majority of the researchers, there may be a number of factors that contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s including genetic disposition, diet, medical history, and other lifestyle factors.
In the latest research about the disease, some of the studies focus on the possibility of spreading the issue to other people as well, primarily through proteins.
More specifically, people diagnosed with the condition have a buildup of tau and amyloid-beta proteins in their brains. It is not known whether they play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s or are one of the complications of it.
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Some researchers suggest that these proteins can also spread the issue but not through normal activities such as talking or physical contact like other contagious diseases such as coronavirus or tuberculosis (TB).
Instead, proteins from a person’s brain can be passed unto another through medical procedures. For instance, during the years 1958 and 1985, a large number of children received hormone therapy.
The hormones used in the therapies were primarily sourced from cadavers. However, many of the children who received treatment were diagnosed with a life-threatening and neurodegenerative issue known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD).
The main cause of the condition was the prion protein buildup in the brains of the children, which was later noted to be present in some of the hormones used in therapies.
In 2018, research by the University College London, whose findings were published in the journal Nature, analyzed the brains of people who passed away from CJD and surprisingly found deposits of amyloid-beta and tau proteins.
This is evidence that the proteins which are now conventionally associated with Alzheimer’s disease can be transmitted through specific medical procedures, according to some researchers.
However, most also agree that this does not mean people will catch the disease during routine hormone therapies and that further investigation is needed to know more about the potential transmission of proteins.