MONDAY, Feb. 4 (HealthDay News) -- A new analysis did not unearth any evidence to support concerns that neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's might be infectious.
The finding stems from a review of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease risk among people who had received potentially contaminated human growth hormone from cadavers in the 1960s, '70s and '80s, as a treatment for stunted growth. Since then, a synthetic version of the growth hormone has been developed for these patients.
"Basically, the concern has been that the pathology of Alzheimer's or Parkinson's could be passed, or can move, from cell to cell," explained study author Dr. John Trojanowski, co-director of the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research and the Institute on Aging at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, in Philadelphia.
"For example, there was recent evidence of cell-to-cell disease transfer among Parkinson's patients who underwent an experimental therapy in which nerve cells were transplanted into the brain," he said. "After 10 years, the grafted neurons developed Parkinson's pathology. In the same way, years back, cell-to-cell transmission was observed in so-called mad cow disease."
"But when we looked at a group of patients who had been injected with cadaver-derived pituitary extract decades ago, we found no individuals who had developed, 40 years later, either Alzheimer's or Parkinson's," Trojanowski added. "This suggests that there is no cell-to-cell transmission from human to human or from cell to cell."
Trojanowski and his colleagues reported the findings online Feb. 4 in the journal JAMA Neurology.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health notes that growth hormone deficiency results when the pituitary gland, which is situated at the base of the brain, fails to produce enough of the hormone, either as a result of congenital issues or fol
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