NAPLES, Fla., March 14, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Performing brain surgery places neurosurgeons at increased risk for acquiring transmitted Alzheimer's disease, says Leslie Norins, MD, PhD, CEO of Alzheimer's Germ Quest, Inc, based on his evaluation of five medical research reports.
He recognizes this conclusion challenges current teaching that Alzheimer's is not transmissible. Therefore, he says, deeper research on possible infectivity is needed immediately.
He says his concern was aroused by a 2010 report from the society of neurosurgeons which said its members' death rate from Alzheimer's disease was six times that from other causes. No explanation was given.
Dr. Norins notes that during operations these surgeons handle brain tissue with gloved hands, but accidental punctures can occur. Hepatitis B and HIV have been transmitted to physicians through glove punctures.
He says that amyloid-beta, a protein typically found in Alzheimer's brains, was postulated as transmissible in three reports. Last month doctors reported on eight adult patients who suffered a brain hemorrhage from infiltrations of amyloid-beta. Each of the eight had a brain operation during childhood.
In a 2016 study, similar amyloid-related hemorrhages were found in four patients who decades earlier had received donor grafts of dura mater, the membrane that covers the brain. The scientists theorized that in each instance infective amyloid "seeds" were transmitted during the surgery years earlier and grew into widespread plaques.
A 2015 study reported amyloid-beta plaques developing in patients who received injections of growth hormone extracted from prion-contaminated human pituitary glands. Again, transmission of an infective agent was postulated.
Finally, in 2010 it had been reported that household caregivers of Alzheimer's patients developed Alzheimer's at six times the rate of caregivers of non-Alzheimer's patients. Possible transmission of Alzheimer's to the caregiver was never considered.
Dr. Norins believes these five reports, considered together, show the possibility Alzheimer's could be transmitted to neurosurgeons during operations. This new risk adds further impetus to observing precautions already recommended to protect surgeons from other infections.
Alzheimer's Germ Quest, Inc., an independent organization, is the sponsor or the current $1 Million Challenge Award (ALZgerm.org) for the scientist who can submit persuasive proof that a microbe is the cause of Alzheimer's disease.