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BU might be closer to diagnosing CTE during life

Aaron Hernandez was diagnosed with CTE, but only through a postmortem examination. Researchers hope to be able to diagnose CTE in the living.

Researchers at Boston University announced Tuesday that they have made a promising early breakthrough in the quest to diagnose chronic traumatic encephalopathy in the living.

The BU team said it had discovered a new biomarker for the neurodegenerative disease, which is associated with repetitive head impacts in sports and military action, that moves researchers closer to developing ways to prevent and treat CTE. It currently can be diagnosed only through a post-mortem examination of the brain. The findings are published in the journal PLOS One.

“The findings of this study are the early steps toward identifying CTE during life,’’ said Dr. Ann McKee, the paper’s senior author, who is a director of BU’s CTE Center and chief of neuropathology at the VA Boston Healthcare System. “Once we can successfully diagnose CTE in living individuals, we will be much closer to discovering treatments for those who suffer from it.’’