A clue to brain disorder – before death – SFGate

For the first time, scientists think they have detected in living patients a protein that accumulates in the brains of people suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative disorder tied to repeated brain injuries that afflicts football players and military veterans.Doctors have only been able to diagnose CTE during autopsies based on the presence of a protein called tau, but UCLA researchers write in a paper published Tuesday that they believe they have identified tau in five living former NFL players.The study was limited by the small number of participants, and the scientists could not definitively determine the protein was tau. But brain researchers said the findings open new doors to diagnosing people with chronic traumatic encephalopathy while they are still alive. That could lead to developing therapies to target tau and recognizing patients who could benefit from cognitive and psychological therapies early on. “This is the first step toward identifying markers of this nature anytime post-injury while a person is still alive,” said Stephanie Kolakowsky-Hayner, the director of rehabilitation research at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, who did not work on the study.”If you’ve got a way to diagnose this, if you can target it ahead of time, you might be able to alleviate it before it starts,” she said.Study of 5 ex-NFL playersThe study, wh

via A clue to brain disorder – before death – SFGate.

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