Sport

CTE was detected in living former National Football League player

CTE was detected in living former National Football League player

Four years ago, researchers from Evanston's NorthShore University HealthSystem and other scientific organizations announced they had used brain scans to detect the hallmark of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in ex-NFL players while they were still alive - a technique that promised to spur more accurate diagnoses, and possibly new treatments.

The experimental brain scanning technology has been used on at least a dozen other former National Football League players but McNeil's case is the first to have the CTE test results confirmed with an autopsy, CNN reported.

Bailes said this individual study needs further research to verify the correlation between tau and CTE.

Four years ago, researchers discovered scans indicated the presence of tau, a protein that builds up over damaged neurological cells, in the brains of living former National Football League players. Julian Bailes, another doctor involved, told ESPN their findings confirm what Outside the Lines reported back in February of 2016 that McNeil was living with CTE.

The patient died at the age of 63, and his brain and spinal cord were kept for medical evaluation. McNeill died in 2015, and confirmation he had the disease was made last week in the journal Neurosurgery, scientists said Wednesday. McNeil was a first round pick in 1974 out of UCLA and played for the Minnesota Vikings from 1974-1985.

The illness, known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, has been found in people with a history of symptomatic and asymptomatic head injuries.




Omalu is part of a company called TauMark that is trying to commercialize the brain scan technology (Bailes said he is not involved).

Omalu is credited with first discovering CTE in professional football players. That wouldn't change the diagnosis, but it might limit the severity of the disease as it develops.

Toward the end of his life, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a disease that causes muscles to weaken and waste away, along with presumptive CTE.

It's important to note the evidence, based on a single case, relies on a brain scan that took place 52 months before the subject's death.

Omalu and his colleagues are now seeking funding to begin a phase 3 clinical trail of their technology.


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