Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the neurodegenerative disease often found in people who have sustained repetitive head trauma, is currently only diagnosable after death. Aethlon Medical’s Exosome Sciences is teeing up for a study to validate a biomarker candidate as a way to detect and monitor CTE in living individuals.
The study, which will begin in the second quarter, will bridge up to 200 former professional football players and clinical investigators at multiple sites in the U.S., according to a statement. It aims to further validate plasma exosomal tau, or TauSome, as a biomarker for CTE.
While the study will look at former football players, CTE is also commonly found in boxers and players of other contact sports, such as ice hockey.
"Validating plasma exosomal tau as the basis for a noninvasive test to detect and monitor CTE in living individuals will expand significantly the body of clinical data available for analysis and may provide a starting point for early intervention,” said Dr. Kendall Van Keuren-Jensen, co-director of the Translational Genomics Research Institute's Center for Noninvasive Diagnostics in Phoenix, who will serve as the principal investigator.
Boston University’s CTE Center handled a previous study of TauSome, which examined 78 former NFL players and 16 former athletes who played non-contact sports. The researchers found that the NFL group had “significantly elevated” levels of TauSome compared to the control group, and that higher TauSome levels in the NFL players correlated with worse performance on memory and psychomotor speed tests.
The findings, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, led the team to conclude that TauSome levels in blood plasma could serve as an accurate and noninvasive CTE biomarker.
"Our goal is to collect further evidence that supports the possibility that CTE can be diagnosed in the living,” said Jim Joyce, Aethlon CEO and founder of Exosome Sciences. “If the studies are successful, the door then opens for therapeutic candidates to be tested against this horrific disease that has impacted the lives of former players and their families.”
Beyond CTE, the Exosome researchers plan to explore the use of TauSome plasma levels to detect and monitor other neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.