Cleveland Clinic scores NIH grant for concussion-identifying test

Last year, concussions seemed to take center stage in professional sports. To help its players, the NFL checked out a test from Banyan Biomarkers that could help diagnose concussions. The Cleveland Clinic has also gotten into the game with an NIH grant to keep studying the effectiveness of a blood test that identifies concussions in college football players.

The test uses blood samples taken before and after a game that searches for the biomarker S100B, which signifies brain damage if found in elevated levels. The $250,000 NIH grant will allow researchers to compare players' S100B levels to their brain MRIs to determine whether the biomarker can predict and detect brain damage. Such a test could also benefit soldiers on the battlefield as they often suffer head blows when roadside bombs explode, the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes.

"The current tools and technology available to identify and diagnose concussions are no longer adequate to handle the public health epidemic that concussions have become," said Damir Janigro, the study's lead researcher, in a statement. "As these injuries continue to occur in our athletes, we need to discover solutions for faster, more efficient diagnosis, which is what we expect this blood test to do."

The S100B blood test is one of several projects the Cleveland Clinic is investigating to prevent brain injuries in those playing football, boxing, hockey and soccer. Researchers are also working to make safer youth football helmets and a so-called Intelligent Mouthguard that measures the number and severity of hits to the head. Additionally, the Cleveland Clinic is looking to develop an iPad app that uses the device's built-in gyroscope to quantitatively capture pre- and post-game measures of balance, memory and cognition.

Meanwhile, Banyan has been busy. In August, the company and its partners, including Emory University, won a $2.2 million NIH grant to study progesterone as a treatment for traumatic brain injury.

- see the Cleveland Clinic release
- check out the Plain Dealer story