Tag Archives: CTE

National Football League Veteran Wes Chandler Creates WCTE Inc. to Tackle Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

Former NFL player, Wes Chandler, a member of the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame, and most recently an inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame, announced today the formation of a biotechnology company named WCTE Inc. which is dedicated to the diagnosis, intervention, and cure of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).

At present, the formal diagnosis of CTE can only be made after death, and there is currently no treatment available.  CTE is the cause of depression and suicide in numerous football players, according to Chandler, founder and CEO of WCTE.

“WCTE Inc. was formed because of the urgent unmet need to treat my friends and colleagues, who have sacrificed their health and their lives for popular entertainment.  Now that they need our help, it is our responsibility to be there for them,” said Chandler, who was a star receiver at the University of Florida before moving on to the NFL.  “It is my vision to identify, integrate and incorporate the latest technologies in order to provide a fighting chance for my colleagues.”

CTE has been understudied in contrast to other types of brain injuries, resulting in a time sensitive opportunity for development of intellectual property and therapies in this relatively unexplored area, according to Chandler.  In addition to the estimated $2 billion CTE market, technologies developed addressing CTE possess potential to address the substantially larger Alzheimer’s and aging market.

The company’s immediate focus falls upon three areas. First, capturing all intellectual property related to CTE through licensing/filing of patents.  Secondly, obtain ID approval to initiate a CTE clinical trial using its clinical state stem cell product WesCellTM.  Lastly, generating revenue through sales of NeuroStilbeneTM.

Assisting Chandler in organization of WCTE is Dr. Thomas Ichim, a successful biotechnology entrepreneur whose career successes include taking a stem cell company from discovery of the stem cell to FDA clearance, to sale of the company; 121 peer reviewed papers; 130 patents and patent applications; and successful development of 5 cellular therapeutics that have entered the clinic.

“I am honored to work with Mr. Chandler on helping find a cure for his colleagues and others who suffer from this devastating condition. Having known Wes for several years, I can attest he brings a fresh, multi-disciplinary, goal-oriented, approach to biotechnology. I look forward to working with him in identifying, licensing, and developing key technologies useful for treatment of CTE,” said Dr. Thomas Ichim.

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Latest Issue of Concussion Defense Reporter Highlights Industry Trends and Most Recent Litigation

(Editor’s Note: What follows is the letter from the editor of Concussion Defense Reporter, Tony Corleto of Wilson Elser. To subscribe to CDR, which is complimentary, visit https://www.concussiondefensereporter.com/)

The Surgeon General has not determined … .

A recent publicity campaign features the image of a mother helping her 10-year-old son, in football gear, light a cigarette. The media reel for that campaign shows a coach, post-game, handing out cigarettes to youth football players.  An adolescent male voice begins “Tackle football is like smoking “ and concludes “Choose flag under 14”.  In a vacuum, one might presume the Surgeon General has issued a public health warning. Wrong. It’s just the Concussion Legacy Foundation (CLF) on its latest cycle.

On November 11, JAMA Pediatrics published the results of a two year review by a consensus panel of 11 pediatric experts in various fields (neurology, psychology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, sports and exercise, athletic training, epidemiology, prevention), to summarize current literature (1980 – 2018) and provide recommendations regarding the prevention, assessment and management of Sports Related Concussion in youth athletes. The conclusion: “There is not a recommended age or developmental stage at which contact and collision are most safely introduced for practice or competition”.  The only age specific recommendation was in ice hockey, to delay body checking until 13.

CLF has taken the campaign against youth football to state legislatures, most recently in Massachusetts and New York. Previous efforts in Illinois and California failed, we expect the latest efforts to face the same fate.  In this edition of Concussion Defense Reporter, we provide information about the proposed MA bill, including testimony from Scott Hallenbeck (USA Football), Dr. Julian Bailes and Jon Butler (Pop Warner).

Even though media remains ahead of the science, the law seems to get it. Two recent decisions denied class certification for concussion claims. In Jones v BRG (1:18-cv-07250, USDC, ND ILL, 8/1/19), district Court granted Riddell’s motion to strike class a proposed class of “All individuals who wore a Riddell helmet while participating in a High School and/or College Level football program between 1975 and the present”. Recognizing that the claims essentially sought recovery for personal injury, the court acknowledged that individual inquiries particular to each claimant’s activity, exposure and injury would predominate over any common claims about the products at issue, making individual litigation superior to class treatment.  Similarly, in Archie v Pop Warner (2:16-cv-06603, USDC, CD CA, 9/1//19) district court found that a proposed class of “All persons who enrolled their minor children in Pop Warner tackle football from 1997 to present”, for statutory false advertising claims, failed to satisfy the predominance requirement of Rule 23(b)(3). As in Jones, the decision turned on a finding that specific individualized inquiry would be needed for each claimant in the proposed class to determine whether they had in fact been exposed to and relied on the alleged advertisement.  This edition of Concussion Defense Reporter includes a detailed analysis of the Archie decision.

Cheerleading is again in the spotlight.  We report two decisions, one in favor of a school district and one for a university.  In a “second hit” case, Stevens v Azusa Pacific Univ. (2019 WL 2281585, Ca Ct, App., 5/29/19), the appeals court affirmed a ruling that the cheerleader assumed the risk of injury and that a qualified but uncertified coach did not “increase the risk” of harm.  In Biancorosso v Troy Comm. Cons. SD (App. Ct. Ill no. 2-18-0613 8/29/19) the appeals court upheld summary judgment for the school district, over a flier’s claim that the district was negligent or reckless because a cheer mat did not prevent her concussion when she fell out of a stunt.

Last but not least: One NCAA MDL plaintiff has dropped his case because he feels benefit from infrared light therapy Carr v NCAA, Brigham Young (1:16-cv-08581, USDC ND IL) and the Minnesota Vikings overturn an adverse worker’s compensation award Noga v Minnesota Vikings Football Club, 2019 WL 3439661, S. Ct, 2019.

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NFHS Sparks Controversy With Position Paper Claiming No Linkage Between CTE and Playing High School Football

Editor’s Note: Dr. Karissa L. Niehoff is in her second year as executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is the first female to head the national leadership organization for high school athletics and performing arts activities and the sixth full-time executive director of the NFHS. Clearly, Dr. Niehoff, who was previously executive director of the Connecticut Association of Schools-Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference for seven years, is not afraid to take a position as evidenced by the following paper she released through the NFHS last week.

When it comes to the long-term effects of concussions in sports, there is a wide range of information published – almost on a daily basis. Unfortunately, much of the media coverage as it relates to high school sports – and particularly the sport of football – is misleading.
Last week, the Concussion Legacy Foundation introduced its new public-service announcement that compared youth football dangers to smoking. As the pre-teen football players puff on cigarettes, the voiceover says, “Tackle football is like smoking, the younger I start, the longer I’m exposed to danger.”
The “Tackle Can Wait” campaign by the foundation is an attempt to steer children under the age of 14 into flag football. Although establishing a finite age may be difficult, reducing contact at youth levels is certainly a positive. USA Football is doing just that nationally through its Football Development Model. Likewise, the 51-member state associations of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) have enacted limitations on contact during preseason and practice sessions.
Our concern is the term “exposed to danger.” These types of messages continue to spread unwarranted fear to parents of high school student-athletes. The “danger” refers to reports that players who incur repeated concussions can develop chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
A 2017 study from the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) linked CTE in the brains of deceased National Football League players. Even if this report is accurate, these are individuals who endured repeated blows to the head for 20 to 25 years BEFORE any concussion protocols were in place.
Less publicized is a study by Dr. Munro Cullum and his colleagues at the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute, which is a part of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Cullum’s group studied 35 former NFL players age 50 and older who had sustained multiple concussions throughout their careers. The findings showed no significant association between the length of the individuals’ careers, the number of concussions and their cognitive function later in life.
Two studies, two different conclusions. Regardless of the outcome, however, they are not applicable to kids playing football before and during high school. There is absolutely no linkage to CTE at these levels, and the word “danger” should not be a part of the discussion.
A more applicable and significant study was also published in JAMA in 2017. In a study of about 4,000 men who graduated from Wisconsin high schools in 1957, there was no difference in cognitive function or decline between those who played football and those who did not as they reached 65 years of age. We would assume the majority of these individuals discontinued football after high school.
With more than one million boys – and girls – playing the contact sport of football each year, severe injuries do occur from time to time, but parents should know that efforts to lessen the risk of a catastrophic injury, including head injuries, have never been stronger than they are today.
In fact, new data from the National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study indicates some positive trends in concussion rates. The study, which was released in the American Academy of Pediatrics online issue of Pediatrics this week, indicated that concussion rates during football practices dropped from 5.47 to 4.44 concussions per 10,000 athletic exposures between the 2013-14 and 2017-18 seasons.
In addition, repeat concussion rates across all sports declined from 0.47 to 0.28 per 10,000 exposures during the same time period.
Concussion laws are in place in every state. All NFHS sports rules books have concussion management protocols. Helmet-to-helmet hits are not allowed in football. Limits on contact in preseason and practice in football are in place in every state.
After considering all the available research, we encourage parents to let their kids play their sport of choice in high school, but we would discourage moving away from football – or any contact sport – solely based on the fear of developing CTE later in life.
 
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