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New brain test for concussion damage
Wednesday, October 09, 2013 11:08 PM
However, the science has until now remained limited by logistics. The test to identify CTE must be done postmortem, as it requires slicing the brain into thin sections, injecting them with dye and examining them under a microscope. The test costs thousands of dollars and takes as long as six months to complete, so the sample size has remained small.
That might be changing. Earlier this year, UCLA researchers published a breakthrough study in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry outlining a method of testing for CTE in living players.
By injecting a radioactive compound into the bloodstream of five retired NFL players, the UCLA researchers were able to identify the biomarkers of CTE in a routine positron emission tomography (PET) scan. The compound, called FDDNP, acts as a tracer by binding with the tau protein deposits associated with CTE. The radioactive chemical tracer then accumulates in the brain in various densities, which show up in clusters of different colors on the PET scan (low-density tau deposits glow blue, while high-density deposits glow red).
Phil Callihan Editor-in-Chief UMGoBlue.COM