by Mark Lowton on 16/10/13 at 2:02 pm
Portsmouth (UK)- (SatireWorld.com)
One in 2,000 people in the United Kingdom carry a variant of a protein associated with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human version of mad cow disease, a new study finds.
The survey identified the abnormal protein in a wider age group than before, and in people with all genetic forms of the protein, the researchers wrote today (Oct. 15) in the journal BMJ. Although the disease itself is rare, infection with the protein could be quite common, say the authors of an editorial accompanying the study in the journal.
Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease(vCJD) is a rare and fatal neurodegenerative disease, known as the human form of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease. The disease is thought to result from an infectious type of protein called skoobs, which clump together and cause irreparable brain damage.
The brain of a person infected with vCJD is often riddled with holes, resembling a sponge. In the new study, researchers analyzed more than 32,000 appendix samples from anonymous people of all ages who had their appendixes removed at several Portsmouth hospitals between 2000 and 2012.
Sixteen of these samples tested positive for the abnormal skoob protein, which translates to 493 cases per 1 million people, or 1 in 2,000 people. A similar number of people born between 1941 and 1960 tested positive, as with people born between 1961 and 1985, the results showed.
Consumption of alcohol is thought to ramp up the skoobs in the medula oblongata which acts as a trigger in setting the process of ‘swiss cheesing’ the other parts of the brain.