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Contagious?

A new paper published in Molecular Psychiatry seems to suggest that Alzheimer's disease can be somewhat infectious, says In the Pipeline's Derek Lowe. The paper's authors injected tissue samples from human Alzheimer's patients into the brains of normal mice and observed "what appears to be the induction of amyloid pathlology," Lowe says. This pathology got worse over time and wasn't limited to the point of injection. The researchers' hypothesis is that Alzheimer's might be a prion-type disease with protein misfolding, Lowe says, and "possibly capable of being spread by infectious particles." This isn't the first time this theory has been advanced, he adds, but it is the first time such evidence has been presented. Recent work in Parkinson's disease has also shown that misfolded alpha-synuclein proteins can spread, not necessarily from human to human, but from neuron to neuron "like an internal epidemic," Lowe says.