Despite their widespread occurrence, concussion and traumatic brain injury (TBI) continue to be among the most elusive diagnoses to make. They often turn up negative in scans and doctors often go by symptoms to identify them. But researchers at two U.S. companies are on the cusp of new technology aimed at using a simple blood test to detect the presence of brain injury.
Proteins That Break The Blood-Brain Barrier
Until recently, scientists believed that molecules in the brain did not pass through its internal filtering system and into the body's bloodstream. But now, it is understood that not always the case. Running with this new discovery, researchers at the two companies, Banyan Biomarkers, and Quanterix, have identified two specific brain proteins which show up in elevated concentrations in the hours following a significant blow to the head.
Better, Quicker Diagnoses
The researchers are now testing a tool that detects and measures these two proteins as biological markers for TBI - all from a single drop of blood. The hope is that the tool will be able to identify the presence of TBI, which in turn, could lead to better treatment, increased avoidance of long-term brain damage, and more accurate prognoses.
Since TBIs are often missed or misdiagnosed, the potential benefit to patients and costs savings to health care systems around the world could be huge. According to Ronald Hayes, co-founder of Banyan Biomarker, the technology may reduce "more than a third of unnecessary CT [scan]s."
The technology is now going through clinical trials and is being used in studies that include professional athletes and combat soldiers. Research continues to the degree, speed and duration of the two proteins' migration into the blood system after a head injury and the companies are considering future development of a handheld, field-side device for use during football games. Meanwhile, if approved by the FDA, a laboratory-developed test could be ready for use within the next six months.
Gluckstein Injury Lawyers continues to follow the progress of new developments to improve awareness and increase the wellbeing of head-trauma individuals and their families.