A NEW form of fatal dementia has been discovered in 16 Americans, 10 of whom have already died of the condition. It resembles Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease - with patients gradually losing their ability to think, speak and move - but has features that make it distinct from known forms of CJD.
No one yet knows how the disease originates, or under what conditions it might spread. Nor is it clear how many people have the condition. "I believe the disease has been around for many years, unnoticed," says Pierluigi Gambetti, director of the US National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Cases may previously have been mistaken for other forms of dementia.
Since Gambetti's team wrote a paper describing an initial 11 cases referred to his centre between 2002 and 2006 (Annals of Neurology, vol 63, p 697), another five have come to light. "So it is possible that it could be just the tip of the iceberg," Gambetti says. Eurekalert.org Link
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