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Volume 175: debated on Tuesday 26 June 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether he has yet established if the infective agent responsible for human encephalopathies can be transferred subcutaneously; and if he will make a statement.

A small number of cases of the human spongiform encephalopathy, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, can be attributed to inadvertent transmission by transplantation of nervous tissue and corneas and the use of dura mater and human growth hormone. Similar information is not available for kuru, another human spongiform encephalopathy that at one time was common in certain tribes in New Guinea.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research is being undertaken to establish any possible connections between Alzheimer's disease and human spongiform encephalopathies; and if he will make a statement.

The Department of Health has not commissioned any such research. The Medical Research Council (MRC) is the main Government agency for the promotion of medical and biomedical research in the United Kingdom. The MRC receives its grant in aid from the Department of Education and Science.