Wednesday, April 16, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Ex-players fear dementia based on unproven tests

By
January 29, 2014 | Leave Comment

CHICAGO — After thousands of hits to his head and confronted with troubling symptoms, NFL Hall of Famer Joe DeLamielleure is sure he has the devastating brain disease CTE — even though the strongest scientific evidence says it can only be diagnosed in the dead.

He is certain because researchers trying to develop a test for CTE have essentially told him so, based on preliminary and unproven results.

To the 62-year-old DeLamielleure, the results are reassuring, offering a potential explanation for his sudden anger, depression and sleeplessness.

“They’re absolutely positive I have it. You can see it on the X-ray,” DeLamielleure said by telephone from his home in Charlotte, N.C.

The former Buffalo Bills offensive lineman and several other retired players were tested last year at UCLA by researchers who told them that changes seen on the scans are consistent with CTE. They were told their brains resemble those of retired players who killed themselves and were diagnosed with CTE during autopsies.

Dr. Julian Bailes, co-director of the NorthShore Neurological Institute in Evanston, Ill., is part of that research team — one of many groups racing to develop methods to diagnose and eventually treat CTE. Bailes and co-researchers at UCLA think they’re leading the pack with a PET scan technique to detect abnormal brain buildup of a protein called tau. The test involves injecting a special chemical marker that is designed to bind to tau deposits in the brain; those areas light up on the imaging scans.

Their first results in living patients — five former NFL players, including DeLamielleure — were published last year. Research involving about a dozen more former athletes and others with multiple concussions is expected to be published later this year.

For many skeptics, including doctors, neuroscientists and researchers working on developing different detection methods, CTE testing in the living is too preliminary to make any kind of diagnosis and raises serious ethical questions. The disease is progressive and can’t be cured.

Robert Stern, a scientist with Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, has a National Institutes of Health grant to do that kind of research; his team has examined more than 70 former NFL players so far. He said results so far are promising, and medical ethicists have been consulted for guidance on what to tell players about the findings.

“This is a very complex issue, because, No. 1, we don’t truly know what many of the tests might mean. No. 2, this is a very vulnerable group of people who are scared to death about seeing their brothers have such significant cognitive and behavioral and mood changes,” Stern said.

“There has been so much hype about this issue,” he added. “The awareness and the attention to CTE has grown so tremendously in the last three to four years, but it has grown much, much faster than the science could possibly grow. We’re still in the early infancy of our scientific knowledge of this disease.”

Several former NFL stars have been diagnosed with the disease after death in recent years, including Junior Seau, Dave Duerson and Ray Easterling. All of them had troubling symptoms and committed suicide. Thousands of former players have sued the NFL, claiming the league withheld information about damaging effects of repeated head blows and concussions. DeLamielleure is among them, and he is also among those who have agreed to donate their brains to CTE researchers.

DeLamielleure estimates he endured more than 200,000 head blows during his 13-year NFL career — “dings” that made him see stars but didn’t worry him much — until word started spreading about CTE. When he learned last year about the experimental test, DeLamielleure eagerly volunteered.

“When I read what happened to Junior Seau and Dave Duerson — they didn’t sleep, had wild mood swings, and shot themselves in the chest — I wanted to know what I was going through before something happened,” he said.

There is much that isn’t known about CTE, including why some athletes with a history of head blows never get dementia or other debilitating symptoms, who is most prone and whether genes or other health conditions increase the risk. Some of the symptoms occur in many people who never played contact sports, and in other diseases, including Alzheimer’s.

And some of the symptoms in former NFL stars may have nothing to do with head blows.

Leonard Glantz, a bioethicist at Boston University’s School of Public Health, said CTE tests in the living should be billed as experimental and that participants should understand they are research subjects, not patients.

“You don’t want anyone making predictions about what their life is going to be like based on these” experimental procedures, he said. He contends the results won’t be valid unless they can be duplicated in large studies done by scientists with no financial stake in the research.

The test method used on DeLamielleure and others is owned by UCLA and licensed to TauMark LLC, a company in Wheeling, W.Va. UCLA researcher Dr. Gary Small has a financial interest in the company, a UCLA spokeswoman said.

The test is not commercially available but it likely will be “in the near future,” the company’s website says. Company representatives did not return calls and emails seeking more information.

DeLamielleure said he wasn’t told about UCLA’s financial stake, but it doesn’t surprise him.

Bailes said he worked with TauMark previously but has no financial ties to the company. He said “it’s ludicrous” to imply that it’s unethical for researchers to have a financial interest in drugs or procedures they develop.

He acknowledged that the tau test results need to be replicated, but added, “We are at this stage confident that the changes seen on PET scanning are consistent in location and density with CTE.”

Players involved requested their results “along with the best interpretation of what the findings represent,” Bailes said. “Many individuals desire to know if they are predisposed or confirmed to have abnormalities so that they can take whatever steps possible to mitigate or reduce the long-term detrimental effects.”

DeLamielleure said based on his test results, the researchers recommended a healthy diet and supplements including fish oil.

Many retired football players are likely interested in having their brains tested, guys like the Hall of Famers DeLamielleure gets together with sometimes for conversations that often turns to symptoms .

“You talk privately, ‘How do you feel? Do you get depressed? Yeah, I get depressed for no reason,’” he said. “Or you snap, just get upset for no reason at all.”

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

 
 
 
Solano Jews gather for start of Passover

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
 
Suisun police ID shooting victim

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3, 6 Comments

 
County discusses consolidated dispatch

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

Miner Slough Bridge to see repairs

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

 
Easter hunt set for Mare Island

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A5

 
‘Heaven is for Real’ opens Wednesday

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B5

 
 
Fiesta Days pageant organizers seek contestants

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5

Coakley joins Solano fair board

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A6

 
Crews make quick work of vehicle fire

By Glen Faison | From Page: A6, 6 Comments | Gallery

 
Paper Clover Campaign supports Solano County 4-H

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A6

 
Hundreds flock to Krispy Kreme as it opens doors

By Susan Winlow | From Page: B9, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
County to honor Solano educators

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A14, 1 Comment

.

US / World

Officials: Huge San Francisco blaze was accidental

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
‘Shrimp Boy’ pleads not guilty in corruption case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

Solemn tributes mark Boston Marathon bombing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Immigration activists urge Obama to act boldly

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

First women move into Army platoon artillery jobs

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Final deadline arrives for health exchange sign-up

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

New LA newspaper embraces print in digital world

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Congress is giving states the transportation blues

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14, 2 Comments

Police: Suspects in killings wore GPS devices

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14, 1 Comment

 
DNA alternative to Pap smear sparks medical debate

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Robot sub returns to water after 1st try cut short

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Supremacist faces murder charges in Kansas deaths

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Ukraine: Military secures airport from attack

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Democrats have outside money advantage – for now

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14, 3 Comments

Hamas praises deadly West Bank shooting

By The Associated Press | From Page: A15

 
2 dead after ferry sinks off SKorean coast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A15

.

Opinion

Oh, for the days of Dr. Welby

By Dan K. Thomasson | From Page: A13, 13 Comments

 
Poor Judgement in Flight 370 column

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A13, 1 Comment

 
Senseless babble that hurts

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A13, 2 Comments

Expand Red Top Road

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A13, 2 Comments

 
Editorial cartoons for April 16, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A13

 
.

Living

Today in History for April 16, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: April 16, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

What love gives you

By Barton Goldsmith | From Page: A2

 
Saving carrots from their usual sugary Easter fate

By Sara Moulton | From Page: B6

Sweet pairings for grown-up Easter treats

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
A matzo ball soup fit for a weeknight dinner

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

My husband still pays his 45-year-old unemployed son’s bills

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B7

 
Horoscopes for April 16, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

.

Entertainment

Boston Globe wins Pulitzer for bombing coverage

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Lindsay Lohan’s mom pleads guilty to DWI in NY

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Strahan’s ‘GMA’ side job confirmed with his visit

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

.

Sports

Cal hires Tennessee’s Cuonzo Martin as coach

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Warriors trying to move on without Andrew Bogut

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Sharks’ Torres uncertain for playoff opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Indians shut out Mustangs

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1, 1 Comment | Gallery

Ex-Minnesota State, Mankato coach returning to job

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Panthers jump Sabres to win NHL draft lottery

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

More former players sue NHL regarding concussions

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
49ers sign WR Brandon Lloyd to 1-year deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

MLB marks 67th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
.

Business

Twitter buys data analytics partner Gnip

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Yellen signals more aggressive stance toward banks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

.

Obituaries

Carolyn McClelland

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Evonne Medina

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

.

Comics

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7