Last week I tweeted about a story on Deadspin. It was a very well written article, one that should make us hopeful and fearful at the same time; at the very least it is thought-provoking. Even after reading it several times I still feel that Kyle Wagner absolutely did everyone a service by publishing this piece;
The question, after a decade of brain-slicing autopsies, is when any of this will help players before they’re dead. Doctors can’t just crack open living patients’ skulls and lop off slices of their brains to stick under a microscope.
But new research at UCLA is using a cutting-edge biomarker that can attach itself to tau protein tangles so that they show up on PET scans of living subjects. Dr. Gary Small is currently running a pilot study on retired NFL players, imaging their brains in place. If he is successful, his work would reorient the science of head injuries around saving lives instead of merely contextualizing deaths.
“I’ve always sort of thought of tau imaging as the holy grail on the issue of chronic brain damage, especially CTE,” said Dr. Julian Bailes, one of the founders of the Brain Injury Research Institute (BIRI).[…]
PET imaging tech is half a century old, and though FDDNP is relatively new, it’s still been around for years. So it’s strange to think about the marker being on the cutting edge of a fairly recently discovered brain disease. If the marker can find and pinpoint CTE, why hadn’t anyone tried it before now? And for that matter, why isn’t it already in use?[…] Continue reading