New research suggests that Multiple System Atrophy comes from proteins "Prions". The disease is often confused with another brain disorder, Parkinson's.
Researchers have finally discovered the cause of a rare and fatal brain disorder called, Multiple System Atrophy (MSA).
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According to new study published in PNAS, the disorder is caused by a protein named “Priones.” The newly discovered protein is similar to one that causes mad cow disease.
Multiple System Atrophy disease is rare but, its impact is devastating. The disease is found in three out of 100,000 people of age 50 or more and symptoms are similar to those seen in Parkinson’s disease. It badly affects the nervous system, impairs its function and kills various types of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. People with MSA develop phenomena in later stages of their life and suddenly die from respiratory or heart problems.
For the study, a team of researchers led by Stanley B. Prusiner, examined the brains of 14 patients who were diagnosed with MSA. Researchers found that alpha-synuclein prions were damaging genetically engineered cells in labs as well.
“Based on these findings, we conclude that MSA is a prion disorder and that alpha synuclein is the first new bona fide prion to be discovered in the last 50 years.” Reseachers write.
Unlike Parkinson’s disease, which is caused by putative prions, MSA is supposed to be a transmissible disease. Another neurodegenerative disease CJD can also transmit to humans if safety measures are not taken while touching the tissues of affected brain.
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“We do not know yet whether or not MSA prions exhibit the same ability to stick to surgical instruments. Until we have those answers, we encourage a cautious approach to sterilizing instruments used on MCA patients to minimize potential public health concerns.” Amanda Woerman, co-researcher from the University of California, San Francisco, said in a statement.