Abbott gets $20M from DOD to develop portable concussion test

Abbott's i-Stat System--Courtesy of Abbott Laboratories

Abbott Laboratories ($ABT) and the U.S. Department of Defense are collaborating to develop a test that can be used to assess potential concussions quickly in the field. Abbott's handheld diagnostic i-Stat System is already in use by the military; the test will be developed for use on it.

To fund the work, the Department of Defense awarded Abbott $19.5 million to assess and verify traumatic brain injury biomarkers that can be used to detect mild TBI, otherwise known as concussions. The contract extends through August 2016; $3.9 million of the total is being funded during the current fiscal year. Abbott's i-Stat is portable and can be used for a panel of common blood tests with two to three drops of blood.

"The quick and accurate diagnosis of a concussion is critical so that soldiers who are affected--whether on the battlefield or not--can be removed from duty to recover and to prevent further injury," said the Brain Health Coordinator for United States Army Medical Research and Materiel Command Colonel Dallas Hack in a statement. "The Department of Defense collaboration with Abbott represents a major initiative to help improve efforts to understand this complex injury and care for wounded warriors suffering from this condition."

TBIs are a common problem for U.S. military service members. Since 2000, more than 300,000 of them have been diagnosed with TBIs, according to the Department of Defense. Most of these, 84%, aren't incurred in combat but are caused by training, accidents, illness and non-combat assignments.

The award to Abbott was disclosed by the Department of Defense on Aug. 13, along with contracts for a couple of other med tech companies. These are $17.9 million to Philips Healthcare ($PHG) to purchase biomedical equipment maintenance at Air Force and Army treatment facilities through September 2015, as well as $21 million contract with Densply for general dental supplies through October 2015.

- here are the DOD contracts disclosed on Aug. 13
- and the Abbott release on the DOD partnership