In a just-released, largest study of its kind, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE was found in the brains of 110 out of 111 deceased former NFL players who donated their brains to medical science. Researchers believe CTE is linked to concussions and leads to depression, neurological disorders, and sometimes suicide. Now, a former Denver Bronco and a Genomics Research Institute are teaming up to try to diagnose the condition while sufferers are still alive.
Steve Jordan works for a real estate development company now. For 13 years, he played for the Minnesota Vikings. His son, Cameron, plays for the Saints. That’s why Steve was quick to volunteer for a study to detect CTE.
“By trying to find biomarkers or whatever it is to detect CTE, you’re just preparing people to know how to address it as they go on,” Jordan told Ivanhoe. (Read full interview)
Aethlon Medical CEO Jim Joyce, also a former pro football player for the Denver Broncos, was inspired to launch this study by Tom McHale, an NFL player diagnosed with CTE after his death. Right now, an autopsy is the only way to confirm CTE, but the test researchers are working on could change that.
“It’s a biomarker we see in the circulatory system, and it seems to be at very elevated levels in former NFL subjects as compared to controls,” Joyce explained.
A biomarker called TauSome carries tau protein in the body. With CTE, tau tangles, causing neurological damage. Joyce and researcher Kendall Van Keuren-Jensen previously participated in an NIH study showing that NFL players had nine times as much tau as did a control group. Alzheimer’s patients had ten.
“Currently there are no treatments for CTE, but there are drugs and things that people are using for Alzheimer’s disease that may diminish the amount of tau and so maybe those things could be used in CTE,” Kendall Van Keuren-Jensen, PhD, Co-Lead Researcher stated.
Steve Jordan has offered to be one of up to 200 NFL players in the study.
“I think we’re going to help ourselves get closer to identification and therefore, hopefully, a cure,” Jordan said.
The tau study could have results published in a year or so. Jim Joyce hopes to validate similar high TauSome levels in CTE patients and Alzheimer’s patients. That could open up anti-tau drug trials for the NFL players and others diagnosed with CTE.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Wendy Chioji, Field Producer; Bruce Maniscalco, Videographer; Gabriella Battistiol, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.
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TOPIC: TACKLING CTE
REPORT: MB #4299
BACKGROUND: Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a degenerative brain disease found in athletes, military veterans, and others with a past of brain trauma. A protein called Tau is formed and slowly kills the brain cells. CTE has been seen in people as young as 17, but symptoms do not appear until years after ongoing impact. These symptoms include memory problems, confusion, impaired judgment and eventually, progressive dementia. These cognitive symptoms appear before mood and behavior symptoms that can lead to depression. CTE first appears in patients in their forties and fifties. Not only is CTE found in athletes, but also those who have suffered from domestic violence.
DIAGNOSIS: CTE can only be diagnosed after death through brain tissue analysis. The brain tissue is sliced and researchers use special chemicals to make the tau clumps visible. Those clumps are then searched for any unique patterns linked to CTE. This can take several months to complete an analysis and is not a part of a normal autopsy. Until recently, there were few doctors who knew how to properly diagnose CTE. There is an advancement of anti-Tau drug therapy for Alzheimer’s patients which can correlate with the new CTE findings in subjects with Alzheimer’s. This can cut off time that it takes to for individuals to participate in CTE studies.
CEO of Aethlon Medical, Jim Joyce)
NEW OUTLOOK: There has now been a collaborative effort since 2015 to develop diagnostic criteria for CTE, so that more doctors can properly diagnose this condition. Neurologist Dr. Samuel Gandy at Mount Sinai is researching a molecule called ligand. By linking ligand to a radioactive atom and then injecting it into the patient, Gandy could use a PET scanner to track its progress through the brain. In addition, CEO of Aethlon Medical Jim Joyce and his team are looking into making a biomarker that can diagnose CTE without autopsy. In this first NIH study about CTE, the researchers were able to discover a new biomarker, called TauSome. The team wants to qualify this biomarker and use it to diagnose and control CTE in living individuals.
CEO of Aethlon Medical, Jim Joyce )
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