AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 2, 2017

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Antibody Helps Detect Protein Implicated in Alzheimer's, Other Diseases

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May lead to novel ways to diagnose, monitor brain injury

Damaging tangles of the protein tau dot the brains of people with Alzheimer’s and many other neurodegenerative diseases, including chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which plagues professional boxers and football players. Such tau-based diseases can lead to memory loss, confusion and, in some, aggressive behavior. But, there is no easy way to determine whether people’s symptoms are linked to tau tangles in their brains. Now, however, a team led by scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has found a way to measure tau levels in the blood. The method accurately reflects levels of tau in the brain that are of interest to scientists because they correlate with neurological damage. The study, in mice and a small group of people, could be the first step toward a noninvasive test for tau.

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