CTE is only able to be diagnosed by autopsy, but Professor Buckland is hopeful of producing a breakthrough that allows the condition to be identified while patients are still living.
“If I could retire in 10 or 15 years time and we are able to diagnose it that that will be terrific,” Professor Buckland said.
“We’re hoping before the end of the year we’ll be able to launch our clinical research program. People that have signed up will be able to take part in clinical research.
“That would most importantly help us decide how we can diagnose it during life because once you can diagnose it during life then you can measure it and then you can start trialling treatments. That is the most important thing.”
Professor Buckland’s departmental research into CTE has been operating on an annual budget of just $26,000. He is hoping to find a benefactor who will be able to add further backing to the research, aiming to reach a target of 500 brain pledges.
Folkes’ children Hayley Shaw and Daniel Folkes have given permission to Professor Buckland to further analyse small postage-sized samples of their father’s brain.
“We take little samples from different regions to look under the microscope,” he said. “While the rest of the brain is returned to the body, the little samples are retained. I’m very grateful for Hayley and Dan giving us that permission.
“[But] we definitely need more funding, in particular for these clinical studies. It’s great getting high-profile players [donate] because they drive the story, but we’d love anyone who has played any sport. We’d really like to get all sportspeople to pledge, but family and friends too to get a good comparison.”