Tau Tangle Discovery Sheds Light On CTE, Alzheimer's

Mar 25, 2019

A new international study with researchers from Indiana University School of Medicine has developed a better understanding of how a certain protein plays into neurodegenerative diseases. 

The study explores how a protein, called tau, is related to the disease process of Alzheimer’s and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE – a degenerative disease found in people who have a history of repetitive brain trauma. 

IU School of Medicine researchers worked on the team and Dr. Bernardino Ghetti says previously it was thought that tangles of tau were the same in both diseases. 

"The filaments that are formed by the abnormal tau have been analyzed and they show a different bend in the two conditions," says Ghetti. 

The study used the brains of deceased athletes who had CTE. The findings could lead to improved diagnosis and possible treatment for both diseases – which have none. 

READ MORE: Mapping The Brain: Alzheimer's Research In Indiana

Ghetti says the study of abnormal tau could lead new diagnosis or therapies. 

"The different fold in the filament also implies that for potential treatment we have to identify molecules that can interact with each one of the two different folds," says Ghetti. 

The researchers also identified an unknown element in CTE tau that is not present in Alzheimer’s.