Dmitry Goldgaber, Dr. Sci., presented a paper on “Transmission of Alzheimer amyloidosis to chimpanzees and monkeys: Revisited” at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease in Honolulu Hawaii on July 14, 2010. Dr. Goldgaber is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Stony Brook University.
Dr. Goldgaber’s research, which he conducted in collaboration with several colleagues, has its origins in work begun more than forty years ago by Nobel Prize winner D. Carleton Gajdusek, MD, with whom Dr. Goldgaber worked. After demonstrating that kuru could be transmitted from humans to other primates, Dr. Gajdusek hypothesized that other neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s Disease, could be transmitted as well. To test his hypothesis, he inoculated hundreds of animals with brain tissues from humans who had died with Alzheimer’s. In the end, however, Dr. Gajdusek was unable to find any signs of transmission. He concluded, and the research community accepted his judgment, that Alzheimer’s Disease is not transmissible between species.
Recently, however, Dr. Goldgaber revisited the question. Retesting the original paraffin blocks used by Dr. Gajdusek, but using techniques that were not available at the time, Dr. Goldgaber was able to detect amyloid deposits in the brains of inoculated primates. Amyloid deposits are a principal feature of Alzheimer’s Disease. Dr. Goldgaber was not able to detect neurofibrillary tangles, the other major feature of Alzheimer’s, and so, while he cannot conclude that Alzheimer’s Disease is transmissible across species, he is able to demonstrate that a significant feature of the disease - namely amyloidosis - is transmissible.
This finding has implications for future research into the origins of Alzheimer’s Disease.