Results from a recent study at University College London indicate that Alzheimer’s disease, commonly understood to have genetic origin, may actually be spreadable. When eight people were given contaminated growth hormone injections as children, they died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), a rare brain disease similar to Mad Cow Disease. However, autopsies on their brains revealed that seven of them harbored the misfolded proteins associated with the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. These findings were alarming to researchers as it is unheard of for people in this age group to have such proteins. What does it all mean? The proteins must have been transferred through the contaminated injections.
Though evidence is preliminary, researchers are led to believe the disease can be transmitted via medical procedures, such as blood transfusions or invasive dental treatments, during which contaminated tissues are transferred from one infected individual to another. Medical professionals stress that more research will be needed to determine whether certain medical or dental procedures are actually high-risk for spreading Alzheimer’s disease. Still, the findings of this study raise the eye brows of legal professionals who deal with medical malpractice and wrongful death, as this study may open the doors to an influx of claims by Alzheimer’s patients and their families.