Alachua, FL-based Banyan Biomarkers has won a $26.3 million contract for the development of a diagnostic test for traumatic brain injury. The award will help fund research for a point of care test to diagnose TBI and has significant potential for both military and civilian applications.
The Department of Defense plans to collaborate with the firm on a Phase III trial of its biomarkers, says Col. Dallas Hack, who is based at Fort Detrick, MD, the Philadelphia Inquirer notes. Banyan cofounder Kevin Wang says the company has identified several good candidates, including one protein normally found in the cytoplasm of brain cells.
Jackson Streeter, Banyan's chief executive, says the DoD money will allow the company and doctors to test its diagnostic kits at about 30 emergency departments in the U.S. and elsewhere, the Wall Street Journal notes. The hope is to have such a kit ready for possible FDA approval in about three years.
Banyan has been developing a hand-held device to measure protein fragments released into the blood of brain-injured patients, the Gainesville Sun reports. The technology was developed by researchers at the McKnight Brain Institute at the University of Florida who founded Banyan as Daimonion Diagnostics in 2002.
Each year in the United States, approximately 1.4 million people are treated in emergency rooms because of TBI. It is estimated that as many as 20 percent of combat veterans have suffered some degree of traumatic brain injury due to bomb blasts while in Iraq or Afghanistan, according to a Banyan statement. Word of the contract comes after a study found that a treatment paramedics use for brain injuries is ineffective, according to the WSJ. Scientists have found that highly concentrated saline solution given intravenously by paramedics doesn't improve patients' long-term survival or neurologic functioning.