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New study provides hope that CTE can be diagnosed in living patients


Researchers at Boston University studying Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy have identified a marker that they believe could help doctors diagnose CTE in living patients for the first time.

In a study published in the medical journal PLOS ONE that looked at the brains of 23 former football players posthumously diagnosed with CTE, 50 non-athletes with Alzheimer’s disease and 18 non-athlete control subjects, researchers found elevated levels of a protein called CCL11 in the brains of the former football players. The levels were higher in subjects who played football for a longer period of time and the levels were also higher in cerebrospinal fluid.

“Not only did this research show the potential for CTE diagnosis during life, but it also offers a possible mechanism for distinguishing between CTE and other diseases. By making it possible to distinguish between normal individuals, individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, and CTE therapies can become more targeted and hopefully more effective,” Dr. Jonathan Cherry said in a release.

Dr. Ann McKee, another author of the study, called these findings “early steps” in developing a way to test for CTE in living patients and there is more research that needs to be done before the relationship between CCL11 and CTE can be fully understood.