Fatal Brain Disease MSA Linked To Mad Cow Disease

Posted: Sep 2 2015, 7:00am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

Fatal Brain Disease MSA Linked to Mad Cow Disease
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  • Unique Brain Disorder caused by Vector Agent related to Mad Cow Disease

A rare brain disorder has been found to be caused by a vector agent related to Mad Cow Disease.

It is rare and incurable. Resembing Parkinson’s Disease, this strange brain disorder is caused by prions. This reminds one of Mad Cow Disease. This is a new addition to the small roster of diseases due to prions.

The new guidelines say that you should be careful when having brain surgery. The operation may well leave you vulnerable to this disease. The maladiction is called MSA (Multiple System Atrophy).

"Symptoms tend to appear in a person's 50s and advance rapidly over the course of 5 to 10 years, with progressive loss of motor function and eventual confinement to bed," the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, part of the National Institutes of Health, says on its website.

"People with MSA often develop pneumonia in the later stages of the disease and may suddenly die from cardiac or respiratory issues."

The incurable iniquity affects 15,000 to 50,000 Americans and it is a curse alright. The prognosis is often at the age of 50 and it progresses inexorably from there onwards. Within half to one decade, all motor function goes out the window.

And soon the patient is left on his or her bed in a vegetative state of suspended animation. Later symptoms including pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses appear. The afflicted individual may die of a heart attack or bronchitis in the end.

No cure is in sight and it will take years before a vaccine or drug for the disease is developed. It resembled Parkinson’s in many ways.

Misfolded prions are responsible for CJD and BSE (also known by the simpler name of Mad Cow Disease). A similar prion may be the reason behind MSA as well. Prions cause brain proteins to turn to mush.

Examination of human brains show evidence of a protein called alpha synuclein. Experiments on mice show that the proteins could be transferred easily via petri dishes to other rodents.

The protein called alpha synuclein is the new type of prion which is supposed to cause MSA in the first place. However, it is a moot point that this protein can hop from one patient to another in an infectious manner like CJD or BSE. In fact, MSA probably does not change its hosts so easily.

"It is important to state that this study does not demonstrate human-to-human transmission. In fact, it suggests MSA does not transmit easily," Dr. Valerie Sim, a prion expert at the University of Alberta in Canada, said in a statement to NBCNews.

Mad Cow Disease is contracted from eating infected beef. However, individual cases are far and few between. Only 200 infected people have emerged so far after its heyday in the 90s. Primitive tribes where cannibalism is practiced show a similar trend.

The disease that comes in humans due to eating human flesh is calle kuru. With the addition of this novel disease, the physicians and researchers have been put on red alert. It will be tough finding a cure for this weird illness.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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