Authors: Alice Weatherston
New research carried out by Exosome Sciences (NJ, USA), in collaboration with Aethlon Medical Inc. (CA, USA) and scientists at Boston University (MA, USA) and the University of Washington (WA, USA), has revealed preliminary results supporting the possibility of a blood test for detecting Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) while alive. The results, which were published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease recently, may provide new insights into CTE which is currently only diagnosable in post-mortem analyses.
The collaboration of scientists worked together to develop a novel method for measuring plasma exosomal tau, termed TauSome™. The ability of exosomes to pass through the blood-brain barrier provides a unique opportunity for evaluating the status of brain cells through a blood test, however this is dependent on the ability to isolate brain-derived exosomes in the plasma and to then identify specific marker proteins through staining. Evaluating the feasibility of carrying out this process was therefore the aim of the team’s study.
The study incorporated 78 former National Football League players (NFL) and a control group of 17 former non-contact sport athletes, all of which were subjects from a larger study to develop biomarkers for CTE being carried out at Boston University. Findings indicated that plasma exosomal tau was significantly raised in former NFL players in comparison to the control group. In addition, the number of tau positive plasma exosomes in the former NFL players was significantly correlated with performance on standardized tests of memory and psychomotor speed, with higher TauSome levels resulting in worse performance.
Although the team note that this is a preliminary study and that much more work is needed in order to validate the use of a TauSome test to diagnose and potentially monitor progression in CTE, the findings help to expand the possibilities for research into CTE.
“We are extremely pleased that our initial study data has been published and we appreciate forthcoming opportunities to further advance our TauSome™ biomarker as a non-invasive solution to detect and monitor CTE in living individuals,” stated Jim Joyce (Exosome Sciences and Aethlon Medical).
The next stages for TauSome studies are already planned out, including its inclusion in a multisite, 7 year study to develop methods for diagnosing CTE during life.
Source: PRNewswire press release; Stern RA, Tripodis Y, Baugh CM et al. Preliminary Study of Plasma Exosomal Tau as a Potential Biomarker for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. DOI: 10.3233/JAD-151028, 1–11 (2016).