UCLA Tau PET Study

If you paid attention yesterday you saw that a very preliminary study was unveiled about identification of tau proteins in the brain.  This is significant on two fronts

  1. up until now this has been non-existent with current imaging technology
  2. tau is the #1 culprit in chronic traumatic encephalopathy

If, in fact, this PET scan can find and map out the tau in living brains this would be a “watershed” moment in the treatment of CTE.  This would be because we have not been able to treat CTE, the only way to find CTE is via a posthumous examination.

I believe this is very exciting, but remember like all things in life, caution is needed – the study was only five former NFL’ers and to fully confirm the information gathered the researchers could be waiting a long time, hopefully.

A quick side note here, Dr. Bennett Omalu is a co-author on this study, which isn’t ironic as some have suggested, rather a product of his good work in this area.  For those in the “know” surrounding research in concussions and CTE finds this part of the story – Omalu – “interesting”.

What a great start, and I am willing to be scanned if anyone wants to pass that along!  I would even write a blog about my experiences with it.

10 thoughts on “UCLA Tau PET Study

  1. joe bloggs January 23, 2013 / 14:30

    Bailes is a self promoter and one should be careful regarding his statements. Small’s has been promoting this method in Alzheimer’s of an Adult Type for years. He has also made premature statements in the past.

    Nonetheless, the study, while very small and self-selected, does present some interesting findings. One case appears clearly to be CTE. 2 cases appear likely to be CTE. It is not the evidence of Tau but its distribution and and location (lots of people have tau in the brain – more than 50% of the controls in the BU/CTE study showed evidence of TAU without a history of serious cognitive or mental problems). It appears TAU build-up in several cases could explain psychiatric pathologies often manifested by retired athletes. These studies should be expanded with proper controls and conducted independently of Small’s lab.

    If organized quickly and credibly, we could have much more useful results in less than 2 years and for CTE in less than 10 years.

    PS: Dustin, before you volunteer make sure you account for all the scans you taken as the radiation exposure in a long-term study will be substantial.

  2. Dustin Fink January 23, 2013 / 15:25

    Good post Joe…

    As for previous radiation I have had a ton, good call… Still interested…

  3. Mark January 23, 2013 / 15:30

    One other key point, the location of the CTE. These scans appear to confirm Cantu’s statements in congressional testimoney. He stated that CTE originates in the medial temporal lobe, just milimeters from the ear canal. Interesting development.

    • Dustin Fink January 24, 2013 / 10:06

      You know how to read PET scans now Mr. Picot? Amazing… You know in fact that is where they find most of the tau protein? Seems against what information was presented by Dr. McKee… Some tau buildup is in that area… WAIT A MINUTE…

      Mark Picot is trying to get “research” to back up his claim that mouth orthodics will protect against this sort of stuff…. Aren’t you Mark???

      • Mark January 24, 2013 / 11:22

        Dustin, the location Dr. Cantu stated as he origin is crucial. Knowing where the starting point is will open up new research into finding the mechanism responsible as the Army is now doing. This is a boxing injury, CTE or whatnot, football players are suffering from a boxers desease, Pugilistica Dementia. Not sure why your blocking this theory supported by a U.S. Army research initiative. Boxing has mandated oral protection since the 1930’s, due to the glass jaw, while the NFL still has no mandate. For the record, the most recent statements from a Boston Children’s Hospital neurologists, on flag football for pre teens, put’s things in perspective. “There is no research that connects CTE to concussion”, just as there is no research that shows better helmets are making a difference, yet millions are being spent on developing better helmets and helmet research to protect against concussion, yet we don’t even know how CTE is caused. The same should be done for oral appliances, given the CTE orgin in the medial temporal lobe, just millimeters from the Temporal Mandibular Joint.

  4. George Visger January 24, 2013 / 00:14

    I meet with Omalu fairly regularly, and a couple years ago offered to let him remove a small sample of my brain during my next VP shunt brain surgery. My thought was he could test for tau, and track changes during each subsiquent brain surgery, to log the progression of my tau build up. At the time he was estatic. Now it looks like I can hang onto the few brain cells that are not damaged.

    KVIE Channel 6 Sidelined: Concussions In Sports 12/19/12

    Channel 13 News Sacramento 10/29/12 Terry Tuatolo interview

    George Visger
    SF 49ers 80 & 81
    Survivor of 9 NFL Caused Emergency VP Shunt Brain Surgeries
    Benefactor Of ZERO NFL Benefits

  5. Jake Benford January 24, 2013 / 19:33

    I agree, this is a water shed moment in the research, but this was really just an observational study. Some people had the tau protein in a specific area and some did not. At this point the data does not tell us anything other than the tau can be seen. Hopefully this will lead to some long term, well directed, large studies that will give us some information that we can use. Exciting but not useful, yet.
    George, it would have been great to have a tool like this when your nightmare started. Your case is very unique and it would have been fascinating to see if you had a buildup of tau in an area closer to the ventricles that ultimately caused your hydrocephalus.

    • Matt Chaney January 25, 2013 / 04:14

      Excellent discussion. News media should quote some of you on the topic.

    • Mark January 25, 2013 / 09:57

      Jake, exactly, but in autopsy, Cantu has confirmed under oath, the specific area found the majority of the time is the medial temporal lobe. If confirmed in living subjects, high profile players can be clearly assessed without any BS. A means of identifying, reducing, mitigating the mechanism of cause is crucial. More focus is need in this “area”.

  6. steve bartrum October 9, 2013 / 12:39

    Has there been any studies of NASCAR drivers.Look.a crash into the wall at 200 mph would be more dangerous than a hit in football.Simpsom racing that make and sell Hans devices,The Midwest Safety Facility that make ‘Safer barriers’,are a huge reason after Earnhaert’s death that there has been little concussion problems in NASCAR.Possibly
    modifying the Hans Device and helmets,and modifying a safer barrier used on a players
    heads and helmets,with testing could possibly reduce concussions in the NFL.
    head or inside a helmet might

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