Dec. 20 (UPI) -- A new test could bring scientists one step closer to pinpointing the protein associated with Alzheimer's disease and a degenerative neurological disorder found in some NFL players, a study says.
The study -- which included 16 Alzheimer's patients and two boxers with CTE -- detailed a test to detect tau protein clusters that play a role in the development of Alzheimer's and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.
CTE is a common condition in athletes, military veterans and people with who've endured repeated head trauma.
The National Institutes of Health developed the sensitive new test -- known as Alzheimer's disease real-time quaking-induced conversion, or AD RT-QuIC -- about a decade ago to diagnose Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or CJD. The researchers have since tweaked the test to spot other neurological disorders like dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson's disease.
Doctors already use the test, known for its rapid results, to diagnose sporadic CJD, a disorder that damages brain cells.
Now, they hope the test will detect Alzheimer's and CTE in patients in their early stages.
Nearly six million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, treatment for which comes in at an estimated annual cost of $232 billion, according to the Alzheimer's Association.
More than 100 former NFL players have received CTE diagnoses after they died.