have stated that women who are injected with certain fertility hormones are at
a higher risk of developing the human form of mad cow disease. This treatment
is prescribed to stimulate ovulation. Scientists were studying the presence of
prions (protein bits) in urine-derived hormones because some of these hormones
are extracted and purified from the urine of pregnant or post-menopausal women.
They found that the risks of these urine based fertility drugs could outweigh
its benefits. Prion proteins are present naturally in the human body are
harmless in their normal forms. But mutant, misfolded proteins destroy brain
cells causing degenerative brain disorders.
also cited the possibility of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) being transmitted
through any body fluid tainted with the abnormally formed prions which are responsible
for the brain-wasting disorder. However, so far no case of CJD has been
reported due to the use of fertility hormones, so the risk is theoretical.
There is a synthetic alternative to urine-based
fertility products. But still fertility doctors opt for urine-based treatment
as these synthetic hormones do not work well for every woman. But still the scientists feel that
manufacturers could consider replacing urine derived fertility hormones with
better biosynthetic versions. Caution has to be maintained while screening
urine donors for symptoms of neurological disease. There is no reliable test for screening the presence of
prions in urine and prion diseases have a long incubation period during
which the urine is infectious.