Week 7 post

I found an article that talks about a possible breakthrough in diagnosing CTE in a living person. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a degenerative brain disease that is often caused by persistent head trauma. This disease usually occurs among athletes that play contact sports, such as football. As of right now, the only way to diagnose CTE is after death through a brain autopsy. However, a new study has identified a possible biomarker in the cerebrospinal fluid which could allow doctors to diagnose CTE in a living person. According to the study, the biomarker is a protein called tau. The study consisted of 22 men who were professional athletes and have experienced multiple concussions. The study also included 12 people with Alzheimer’s disease and five healthy individuals to serve as the control group. The researchers found elevated levels of tau in the cerebrospinal fluid for more than half of the athletes (12 out of the 22). The 12 athletes with elevated tau had higher levels than the healthy individuals, but lower levels than the participants with Alzheimers. Researchers also found that the athletes with elevated levels of tau scored lower on executive functioning tests than the athletes with normal tau levels. These tests assessed memory, attention, organizational and planning skills. Brain scans also showed that individuals with elevated tau show differences in white matter of the brain which are also seen during autopsies in people with CTE. Dr. Jamie Ullman, director of neurotrauma at North Shore University Hospital, believes that this discovery of a possible CTE biomarker is encouraging. However, she emphasized that additional studies with larger sample sizes and inclusive of both genders must be conducted. Unfortunately, there’s no way to definitively diagnose CTE in a living person as of right now, however, with more promising research we may be able to in the near future.



2 thoughts on “Week 7 post

  1. In high school, I did a four-year research project on concussions and CTE absolutely terrified me – how can something that tears your life apart and can make you a completely different person go undetected until an autopsy is performed — because obviously then it is too late. I wonder what system in the body causes tau to be present in degenerative brain diseases – does something in the brain release it when it’s under these degenerative conditions? If they are able to start detecting CTE prior to the autopsy, do we think that they will be able to develop some sort of treatment to at least slow the effects of the disease? Or will it be a race against time similar to Alzheimer’s? Very interesting article!

  2. It would definitely be very beneficial to be able to search for CTE in living athletes. Today head trauma and concussions is such a severe issue in contact sports. As much as we love to watch the sport, it is very important to make sure we are looking out for the safety of the players who put their lives at risk in contact sports. Although it was a small sample sized that was used in this experiment, perhaps with more findings through the study of a larger and more diverse sample size, some type of cure or treatment could be used to combat CTE once it is found to prevent any further injury down the line. Thanks for sharing such a cool article!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *