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Scientists Isolate Protein Connected to Brain Injury

brain scans

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a degenerative brain disease. It is a type of traumatic brain injury commonly associated with repeated head blows often suffered by professional football players.

Recently, researchers testing the brain tissue of National Football League (NFL) players have linked CTE to abnormally high levels of a specific brain protein. An article detailing their research is available here.

About the Findings

Previous studies were only able to find elevated levels of Tau Proteins in single cases, and only in deceased subjects. This research, however, is the first instance where researchers were able to compare brain tissue from living, former NFL players to a control group—men of similar age who had never played football.

This study,  later published in The New England Journal of Medicine, showed that pathologists using Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans were able to uncover a relationship between an unusually high level of Tau Proteins in brain tissue and the presence of CTE.

What the Research Uncovered

A team of investigators led by Dr. Robert Stern of Boston University examined images taken of brains of 26 deceased NFL players—all of whom exhibited CTE symptoms while alive. The images revealed a notable increase in Tau Proteins versus the control group of men who had not played football. Those levels appear to increase with the number of years a subject played.

While research performed to date has only confirmed the diagnosis of CTE in the donated brains of the deceased, researchers seek to eventually develop a clinical test which can diagnose CTE in living players. They hope medical professionals can then identify early signs and risk factors.

Future Plans

CTE was first discovered in brain tissue of former NFL players approximately 15 years ago. The pathologists involved in the study say any potential diagnostic test for CTE is years away and will likely require other indicators such as those found in both blood and spinal fluid. They will require additional time and research in order to create a working test for the disorder.

Researchers are calling the study’s findings encouraging. They extend hope that a reliable way to identify abnormal levels of Tau Proteins could give doctors an opportunity to help identify Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in living patients. Further research could someday allow doctors to monitor how patients respond to potential future treatments.

We Can Help.

If you or someone you love has suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury, contact Daggett Shuler Law for help. An experienced Traumatic Brain Injury Attorney can handle your entire case—and work to secure fair and just compensation for you.

If you have questions about a Traumatic Brain Injury claim, call Daggett Shuler at 800-815-5500. When you call, you will speak with a North Carolina Traumatic Brain Injury Attorney absolutely FREE. We will investigate every detail of your situation at no cost to you—and fight hard to secure the benefits you deserve. 

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