Simpson launches study on saliva testing for CTE diagnosis

CTE is associated with abnormal aggregations of tau protein in the brain.
CTE is associated with abnormal aggregations of tau protein in the brain. | File photo
Researchers from Simpson College are working on a pilot program to see if saliva samples are a viable tool to find warning signs for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in athletes.
 
“This form of testing will provide us with diagnostic data and as a monitoring tool,” Simpson Professor Mike Hadden, who teaches sport science and health education, said. “It will be a real breakthrough with concussions and we hope will remove the guessing aspect of an athlete returning to participation.”
 
The data will be collected and tested at regular intervals using a technology developed at Tufts University that allows researchers to measure inflammatory markers and proteins using saliva samples. CTE is associated with abnormal aggregations of tau protein in the brain, and inflammation is believed to be a reason behind those aggregations.
 
“The ease at which this testing can be done makes it simple for everyone to see their results immediately,” said Sue Wilson from 3EWellness of Indianola, who is collaborating on the study with Hadden and Tufts’ David Walt.
 
The research is sponsored by non-profit CTE-Hope, a memorial organization for Indianola native Zac Easter who took his life following a six-year struggle with CTE.

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