Brain Disorder Conference Links Doctors, Scientists Studying Potentially Related Degenerative Conditions

By Morgan Montalvo


Scientists and doctors  today kick off a three-day conference organized to share information on  possible links between degenerative brain diseases.

The meetings  and presentations were organized by the San Antonio-based  Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration Association. The non-profit group  promotes awareness of the brain disorder commonly called FTD, which  leads to crippling cognitive impairment.

FTLDA  Executive Director Sarah Oxford says the event links researchers  examining causes and possible treatments for Frontotemporal Lobar  Degeneration, a condition that most often affects older people, and  Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a concussive disorder often associated  with sports-related head injury. Oxford says CTE is not limited to  "extreme" or "contact" activities:

"We're so  conditioned to thinking of brain diseases as something being attributed  to the aging brain, the older person; we're seeing it happening now in  young people," she said.

CTE, she  said can be induced by single, serious blow to the head leading to  serious brain injury, although the disorder is most common in athletes  who have suffered repeated concussions or related head traumas.

Frontotemporal  Lobar Degeneration, or FTD, is a form of dementia and most often  diagnosed after age 50, but is occasionally seen in much-younger people.

Researchers  attending the conference are looking at so-called "tan" or "tau"  proteins found clustered in the brains of people diagnosed with FTD or  CTE. Oxford says the event is the first of its type to bring together  experts in FTD- and CTE-related imaging technology and cellular-level  experimentation and share their findings.

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