Bloodstream Biomarkers Could Indicate Brain Injury

Validation of biomarkers could allow traumatic brain injury diagnosis through blood test

(RxWiki News) Traumatic brain injury can't always be diagnosed as quickly as doctors would prefer. Discovering biomarkers in the blood could help them quickly and accurately diagnose it.

The National Institutes of Health has awarded Emory University School of Medicine researchers a $2.2 million five-year grant that will allow them to work to pinpoint such biomarkers in the bloodstream.

"Stick with a CT scan until the new method is validated."

Dr. Michael Frankel, a study author and professor of neurology at Emory School of Medicine, and director of Grady Hospital’s Marcus Stroke & Neuroscience Center, said that being able to rapidly assess the severity of traumatic brain injury is critical to diagnosis, treatment and prognosis.

He said current methods are inadequate and often inaccurate, and that there is a tremendous need for improvement.

Researchers will collaborate on the project with investigators at the Medical University of South Carolina, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Michigan and Banyan Biomarkers, Inc.

The patients to be studied already are enrolled in a National Institutes of Health funded phase three clinical trial in which researchers are examining the use of progesterone in treatment of traumatic brain injury in 1,140 patients at 17 medical facilities across the nation.

About 1.4 million Americans suffer a traumatic brain injury each year. About 20 percent of combat personnel suffer traumatic brain injury from the Iraq or Afghanistan conflicts, with 52,000 dying as a result.

Preliminary research has shown that serum levels of four biomarkers might more accurately predict the extent of a traumatic brain injury as opposed to the more commonly used Glasgow Coma Scale and CT scan.

Investigators are hopeful that they will be able to validate the biomarkers and be able to predict a traumatic brain injury diagnosis in a clinical setting. They also will evaluate the relationship between progesterone treatment, biomarker levels and outcome.

An earlier clinical trial suggested that giving progesterone to trauma victims could reduce their risk of death or long-term disability.

Review Date: 
August 5, 2011