Sep 14, 2015

Is Alzheimer's Disease Contagious?

... or Can You Catch AD from a Medical Procedure or Blood Transfusion?

Last week a I received a Google News Alert that immediately caught my attention. The article was titled  - Study shows Alzheimer’s may be spread from person to person.

Can You Catch AD from a Medical Procedure or Blood Transfusion? | Alzheimer's Reading Room
After reading the article in the New York Post, I thought it was misleading and decided to let it go. Then this weekend I had 3 different people tell me they were worried about "catching" Alzheimer's. I asked why?

They then proceeded to tell me they learned about this on the nightly news broadcast on television.

Can You Catch Alzheimer's?

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The New York Post article started this way,

Alzheimer’s disease may be spread from person to person through medical procedures or contaminated surgical tools, according to a new study released Wednesday.

Misleading for sure. Tabloid journalism - I'll let you decide.

“Previously when amyloid-beta was injected in a mouse brain, it spread,” said Dr. Rudy Tanzi. Tanzi a Harvard scientist and Chair of the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund Research Consortium went on to say, "It’s possible the process used to isolate and concentrate the human growth hormone might have spread both proteins. This would not mean you could spread amyloid by blood transfusions or another method of contagion.

One prominent Alzheimer’s investigator—John Trojanowski of the University of Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the study—asserted that the research does not provide a clear answer about whether Alzheimer’s pathology can spread between humans.

Trojanowski says that the study will “generate more confused thinking and stoke unreasonable concerns by the public about the infectivity of Alzheimer’s, which I think does not help the field of prion and AD research.”

If you want to read more about the study it is covered very well by NPR - Treatment From Brain Tissue May Have Spread Alzheimer's Protein. If you prefer to listen go here.

Here is the link to the research summary - Possible evidence for human transmission of Alzheimer’s pathology .


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