A Breakthrough May Allow Doctors to Diagnose CTE in Living Patients

October 12, 2017 | Crandall & Pera Law
A Breakthrough May Allow Doctors to Diagnose CTE in Living Patients

On September 26th, a team of researchers at Boston University’s School of Medicine found something interesting in spinal fluid: a protein that could help detect chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in the brains of patients who are still alive. CTE is a degenerative brain disease, which researchers have discovered in those that play football at the professional, college and even high school level.

From the Washington Post:

“In a new study published Tuesday [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="yes" overflow="visible"][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="no" center_content="no" min_height="none"][September 26, 2017] in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers from BU and the VA Boston Healthcare System studied the brains of 23 former football players who were diagnosed with CTE, in addition to those of 50 non-athletes who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and 18 non-athlete controls. They found significantly elevated levels of a protein related to inflammation called CCL11 in the group of ex-players compared with the non-athletes. The levels were even higher in those who played the game longer” (emphasis ours).

This is an extraordinary development in the fight against the degenerative CTE. Until this discovery, no one had discovered a way to diagnose living patients with CTE; the diagnosis had to come post-mortem, during an autopsy.

The research into CCL11 as an indicator of CTE is still very, very new. At this point, the team at BU needs to determine whether or not the protein “is a reliable sign of CTE, and that it can distinguish CTE from other degenerative brain diseases. And they must understand more precisely how levels of CLL11 that can be measured in the bloodstream reflect those present in the brain,” as explained in the Baltimore Sun.

Still, the signs are positive. While CCL11 was found in brains of people with Alzheimer’s, too, the levels were significantly higher in those brains diagnosed with CTE, and higher still when compared to tests run on people who were “cognitively healthy” when they died. Because the protein was found in spinal fluid (it is, as the Baltimore Sun points out, “generally understood that anything that has escaped the brain into cerebrospinal fluid will find its way into circulating blood as well”), a blood test for CTE could well be on its way.

Another nail in the coffin for CTE and football

We have been pouring through the evidence of the link between playing football and developing CTE for the last couple of years, and the latest study out of BU strengthens that link. The levels of CCL11 in the brains of former football players rose with the amount of time of play. In other words, the longer a person played football, the more of the protein could be found in the prefrontal brain.

We continue to ask: please – do not let your children play football. It is basically guaranteed that they will develop a degenerative brain disease which could lead to depression, dementia, violent tendencies and suicidal thoughts. As parents ourselves, we know that there are so many things we cannot control; so many risks that we can attempt to prepare our children for, but may not be able to stop.

The decision to keep our kids of the gridiron? That is in our control. This is a risk we can avoid, a future we can help prevent.

Please. Choose the future. Choose your children. Choose life.

Crandall & Pera Law is a premier medical malpractice and personal injury firm serving Ohio and Kentucky. We handle complex brain injury claims and lawsuits, and we do not stop fighting for our clients’ rights and futures. To learn more about our services, please call our Ohio brain injury lawyers at 877.686.8879, our Kentucky TBI attorneys at 877.651.7764, or fill out this contact form.

Read more:

  • Aaron Hernandez: “One of the most Advanced Cases” of CTE Researchers Have Ever Seen

  • It’s Official: Football Leads to CTE

  • Ohio CTE Injury

  • Dear Parents: Please Keep Your Children Away from Football

  • Top NFL Exec Finally Acknowledges Link between Football and CTE

  • An Open letter to Parents of High School Football Players

  • This Is Your Brain on Sports

  • Friday Night Lights Out: The Truth about Football and Long Term Brain Damage

  • Should There Be a Legal Age Limit for Playing Football?

  • College Football Players Diagnosed with CTE Confirms Warnings from Concussion Legacy Foundation

  • First Extreme Sport Athlete Diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

  • Despite Controversy Over CTE, Progress Is Made

  • CTE Research Is Incredible, but Prevention Is the Only Sure Cure