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.