Medical News and Perspectives
May 25, 2005

Environmental Neurotoxin May Pose Health Threat

JAMA. 2005;293(20):2460-2462. doi:10.1001/jama.293.20.2460

The latest twist in a more than 60-year-old medical mystery suggests a brain toxin once thought to be a threat only to a handful of western Pacific populations may be a ubiquitous environmental hazard.

The provocative finding suggests that β-N -methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA), a neurotoxin produced by blue-green algae and implicated in the development of severe neurodegenerative disease in a few populations, might play a broader role in the development of Alzheimer disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and Parkinson disease (Cox et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005;102:5074-5078).

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