Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the degenerative brain disease associated with repeated blows to the head, has thus far been diagnosed only in its deceased victims. Now, positron emission tomography scans have revealed elevated levels of an abnormal protein linked to CTE in the brains of more than two dozen living former National Football League players, The New York Times reports. The quantity of the abnormal tau protein found by the scans also went up with the number of years each man spent playing football, the researchers report this week in The New England Journal of Medicine. The results are preliminary, but researchers cautiously call the finding a possible first step toward developing a diagnostic test for the disease in living patients.
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