Researchers Find A CTE Biomarker Which May Lead To Possible Living Diagnoses
By:     -   September 29, 2017   -   Health & Wellness  -  Science  -  Sports   -   0 Comments   -   442 Views

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Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a national hot-button issue in the football world. According to a research study published in JAMA, the neurodegenerative brain disease was found in 99% of the brains of deceased NFL players that were donated to science.

The most recent high-profile diagnosis was given to former NFL New England Patriot, Aaron Hernandez.  Hernandez was believed to have committed suicide in prison, where he had been serving time for murder. To date, the disease could only be truly diagnosed via autopsy. The criteria for donating a brain to research was based on exposure to repeated head trauma, regardless of whether that individual has experienced symptoms during their lifetimes. A vast majority of CTE diagnoses were found in veterans and athletes who play contact sports (i.e., pro-football players). There has, however, been a recent development – researchers have identified a protein (PLOS One Journal) that could be a biomarker for this horrific disease.

CTE is prominently found in individuals who have undergone repeated head trauma. Over time, the increase of abnormal tau protein in the brain has the ability to disable neuropathways, leading to impaired judgement, memory loss, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, aggression, and impulse episodes.

“This is something new. There’s no question that there’s a problem in football. That people who play football are at risk for this disease. And we urgently need to find answers for not just football players, but veterans and other individuals exposed to head trauma.” – Dr. Ann McKee, director of Boston University’s CTE Center and coauthor of the new study

The JAMA study included the brains of Ken Stabler, Kevin Turner and Dave Duerson who have been confirmed to have had the disease. It statistically notes that out of 202 total deceased former football players (high school, college and professional), CTE was diagnosed in 177. Of the 202:

NFL, diagnosed in 110 of 111

College, diagnosed in 48 of 53

High School, diagnosed in 3 of 14

“The medical and scientific communities will benefit from this publication and the NFL will continue to work with a wide range of experts to improve the health of current and former NFL athletes. There are still many unanswered questions relating to the cause, incidence and prevalence of long-term effects of head trauma such as CTE.” – National Football League (NFL)


Researchers are working further to expand understanding on the related CTE clinical risks, as well as the pathological features of this devastating disease.