Creutzfeldt–Jakob or CJD is a degenerative neurological disease that is incurable and invariably fatal. CJD is at times called a human form of mad cow disease. CJD is caused by an agent called a prion. Prions are misfolded proteins that replicate by converting their properly folded counterparts, in their host, to the same misfolded structure they possess. CJD causes the brain tissue to degenerate rapidly, and as the disease destroys the brain, the brain develops holes and the texture changes to resemble that of a kitchen sponge. The first symptom of CJD is rapidly progressive dementia, leading to memory loss, personality changes, and hallucinations. Other frequently occurring features include anxiety, depression, paranoia, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, and psychosis.
In a country-wide study of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in Israel, we diagnosed 114 cases, among them 49 Libyan-born, with onset of their disease during the years 1963-1987. Incidence in various ethnic groups varied in the narrow range of 0.4 to 1.9 per million population except among Jewish immigrants from Libya, among whom the incidence was 31.3 per million.
No generally accepted treatment for CJD exists; the disease is invariably fatal and research continues. Amphotericin B and Doxorubicin have been investigated as potentially effective against CJD, but as yet there is no strong evidence that either drug is effective in stopping the disease. Further study has been taken with other medical drugs, but none are effective. However, drugs to reduce suffering do exist, and include valproate, an anticonvulsant agent, clonazepam and benzodiazepine, to reduce muscle jerks.
The ongoing researches in Israel on Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease include: Fatal prion disease in a mouse model of genetic E200K Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Seizures in E200K familial and sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Tau and 14-3-3 of genetic and sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease patients in Israel.