Article Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed

Breakthrough may lead to ability to diagnose CTE in living football players


Sep. 26, 2017 Washington Post

Dr. Ann McKee, the neuropathologist credited with some of the most high-profile CTE diagnoses, said she was buoyed by the recent discovery, calling it “the first ray of hope” in a years-long effort to understand the disease.

“To me, it feels like maybe now we can start going in the other direction,” she said. “We’ve been going down, and everything has just gotten more and more depressing. And now it’s like, ‘Yeah, we’re going to actually find some answers here.’”

In a new study published Tuesday in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers from BU and the VA Boston Healthcare System studied the brains of 23 former football players who were diagnosed with CTE, in addition to those of 50 non-athletes who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and 18 non-athlete controls. They found significantly elevated levels of a protein related to inflammation called CCL11 in the group of ex-players compared with the non-athletes. The levels were even higher in those who played the game longer.

She cautioned that a lot more research is needed. The BU findings are preliminary and have to be validated. But researchers are hopeful that if an elevated biomarker in a living person might indicate the presence of CTE, research into prevention and treatment of the disease can begin to move forward.

“It’s a unique disease, and it’s going to have unique proteins that are modified in this disease, and this is the first indication that we’ve found one of the unique proteins,” said McKee, the director of BU’s CTE Center and senior author of the new study.

Researchers have been studying the disease in earnest since Dr. Bennet Omalu first published a paper in the journal Neurosurgery 12 years ago called “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in a National Football League Player.” While leading experts agree the disease is linked to the repetitive hits suffered on the football field, it can be diagnosed only after a player has died. That has meant that many former players who suffered late in their lives from the effects of CTE never knew for certain they had the disease.

Read More on Washington Post

Gene Upshaw Player Assistance Trust Fund

Apply Today

All Resources

Tell Me More

Heat might really be getting to your brain

Making sure your air conditioning or HVAC is working might have serious cognitive effects.

Read More

Getting Fully Aquainted with Bipolar Disorder

Stigma and a lack of understanding has led to a 10-year gap in treatment.

Read More

10 ways to improve your memory

Discussing the psychology and philosophy of memory.

Read More

Hiding My Depression Almost Destroyed My Job

Help end the stigma: Let’s talk about mental health.

Read More

Is Downsizing in Retirement Right for You?

Once you know it is the right time to downsize, do not wait too long.

Read More

The Journey Through Loss and Grief

If you’re struggling through loss, the path forward is difficult, but you are not alone.

Read More

MARIJUANA: SLEEP AID OR SLEEP STEALER?

As access and research become more abundant, more information on how marijuana impacts surfaces.

Read More

How to Use Mindfulness to Increase Creativity

Striking a balance between fast-paced production and slowed-down deep thought is important.

Read More