(The Wire) Earlier this year, a new diagnostic test from UCLA researchers discovered that several living former NFL players showed signs of CTE (Chronic Traumautic Encephalopathy), the degenerative brain disease linked to repeated head trauma that can lead to early dementia and depression. But scientists told The New York Times today that they aren’t at all sold on that test’s validity.
In the UCLA researchers’ test, an injected compound purports to stick to proteins in the brain, which can then be analyzed on PET scan. At the time, that finding of CTE in retired NFL players was startling, as the disease had only been firmly diagnosed posthumously in brain autopsies of deceased players. Add in the big names diagnosed — such as former NFL Hall of Fame star running back Tony Dorsett — and the story had easily accessible legs.