New Test May Detect CTE in Living Patients
Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine and the VA Boston Healthcare System may have discovered a new way to detect chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive degenerative brain disease found in people with a history of repeated head trauma. Currently, CTE can only be diagnosed by examining the brain after death. The ability to diagnose CTE in living patients could lead to development of treatments and preventive measures for this devastating condition.
In the recent study, published in PLOS ONE, researchers discovered that a certain biomarker called CCL11 might identify CTE and also distinguish it from Alzheimer’s disease, which often presents with similar symptoms.
The researchers examined the brains of 23 former college and professional football players and compared them to the brains of 50 non-athletes with Alzheimer’s and 18 non-athlete controls. Levels of CCL11 levels were significantly higher in those with CTE and there was a correlation between elevated CCLL11 levels and the number of years playing football. In cerebrospinal fluid samples from four of the controls, seven of those with CTE, and four of those with Alzheimer’s, CCL11 levels were also elevated in those with CTE, while levels were normal in the others.