Researchers who conducted the pilot study at UCLA described the findings as a significant step toward being able to diagnose the disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in living patients. CTE was discovered earlier this month in the brain of former Chargers linebacker Junior Seau, who committed suicide in May by shooting himself in the chest. "I've been saying that identifying CTE in a living person is the holy grail for this disease and for us to be able make advances in treatment," said Dr. Julian Bailes, co-director of NorthShore Neurological Institute in Evanston, Ill., and one of the study's co-authors. The UCLA researchers last year used a patented brain-imaging tool to examine Fred McNeill, a 59-year-old former Vikings linebacker; Wayne Clark, a 64-year-old former backup quarterback; and three other unidentified players: a 73-year-old former guard; a 50-year-old former defensive lineman; and a 45-year-old former center. The disease, which researchers say is triggered by repeated head trauma, can currently be confirmed only by examining the brain after death.