We have a new brain disease that we need to worry about according to a newly conducted study. It is a brain disorder that has the potential of being fatal and it is called multiple system atrophy (MSA). Its origin lies in a prion that was recently discovered, a protein that is very similar to the one responsible for Creutsfeldt-Jakob and mad cow.
The study has only revealed the MSA and indicated that the disorder looks very much like Parkinson’s, causes resembling symptoms and, unfortunately, has no cure. What is worse is that, according to researchers, this is the newest prion that has been discovered, approximately 50 years later after the previous one.
The prion is a protein that eventually multiplies, creating more and more similar proteins. Over time, the out of control multiplication creates lesions on the brain, allowing the disease to take control. The researchers from the University of California have confirmed the potential danger that this new protein represents to humans and they urged immediate investigation.
MSA is as cruel as Parkinson’s, making people experience slow movement, tremors, coordination issues and even speech difficulty. MSA can lead to people’s demise anywhere in between 5 to 10 years. But the disease is a very rare one, only about three in 100,000 Americans being diagnosed with it every year. And the majority of patients are Americans over the age of 50. Very different circumstances compared to Parkinson’s.
The new study implied that researchers take brain tissue from 14 patients with MSA. The brain material was then injected into mice which were previously engineered specifically to have a mutation. After having injected the mice, researchers observed how they began to develop progressive neurological disease. It happened rather quickly: in 4 months the mice displayed the obvious symptoms.
Injecting the mice lead to a very disturbing reality: the MSA is transmissible and this is not the news that scientist were looking forward to. It only makes matters worse. We do not only have to deal with Parkinson’s now, but with its relative as well.
There are other prion disorders than can also be transmitted, but the circumstances need to be very specific, thus making the transmission very difficult. CJD is one of these disorders and it can only be transmitted if brain surgery instruments are not cleaned in a specific way. So if the MSA is clearly transmittable, surgeons need to take care of their patients more carefully.
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