In DepthNeuroscience

Can brain scans reveal concussion-linked disease?

+ See all authors and affiliations

Science  20 May 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6288, pp. 881
DOI: 10.1126/science.352.6288.881

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Summary

Last week, at the Sixth Annual Traumatic Brain Injury Conference in Arlington, Virginia, neurologist Samuel Gandy presented a former National Football League player's positron emission tomography (PET) scan as the "most dramatic" evidence yet of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in a living person. "I've never seen anything like it," he said of the scan, which used a PET tracer called T807 to reveal deposits of a sticky, helical protein called tau in the player's brain. The announcement could represent a milestone for tau imaging, a promising but controversial strategy for diagnosing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's in living patients. If the science pans out, it could also transform the medical and legal status of CTE, which at present can only be officially diagnosed after death, when a pathologist looks for tau in brain tissue.