This past weekend was a difficult one for football fans, with numerous players on the college and pro levels taking vicious helmet-to-helmet hits that resulted in concussions--and worse. While the NFL is fining the players for these hard hits, the league also is looking with great interest with at a new test from Banyan Biomarkers that could help diagnose concussions.
Alachua, FL-based Banyan recently 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. Banyan's blood test looks at specific proteins injected into the blood stream when brain cells are damaged, according to iTWire. Researchers have been able to detect two or more proteins that were released into the blood stream when cells are broken open as the result of a brain injury.
Army Colonel Dallas Hack says recent data show the blood test accurately diagnoses mild traumatic brain injury in 34 patients.
The company's work has certainly generated a lot of hubbub, but not everyone is jumping up and down about Banyan's findings. "Banyan Biomarkers has identified some novel biomarkers in CSF (cerebral spinal fluid) and blood that show promise for enhancing the predictive capability as compared to prior biomarkers," Dr. Alan Faden, director of the Center for Shock, Trauma and Anestesiology Research at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, in an e-mail to ABC News. "But at present there are insufficient data to support the 'hype' expressed by Col. Hack."
Furthermore, as Discovery points out, the research is moving forward at a judicious pace. And the pivotal study of 1,200 patients won't begin until at least June of next year, and may not conclude until 2013.