Scientists discover ‘holy grail’ of brain disease research

Scientists discover ‘holy grail’ of brain disease research

It’s been called the “holy grail” of brain research and now, it may have been found. Scientists in the U.S. say they have developed a way to detect the concussion-related brain disease called CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, in living athletes.

Until now, the disease, which brings on dementia, depression and personality changes, could only be confirmed through an autopsy.

Now, for the first time, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles have figured out how to use a brain-imaging tool to identify the abnormal build-up of tau proteins — the key marker of CTE — in people showing early signs of the disease.

“Early detection of tau proteins may help us to understand what is happening sooner in the brains of these injured athletes,” lead study author Dr. Gary Small said in a news release. Small is UCLA’s Parlow–Solomon Professor on Aging and a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA.

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