Simple blood test could spot brain injuries

Brain injuries can be difficult to diagnose, leading to late or incorrect treatment. However, researchers may soon be able to identify biomarkers allowing them to catch brain injuries with a simple blood test.

The Defense Department is expected to give $17 million to study the biomarkers in a multinational study of more than 1,000 patients. It is on track to start next year and will explore whether biomarkers can assess the extent of brain injury. "I think this will revolutionize brain-injury care," says Col. Dallas Hack, a medical doctor in charge of the U.S. Army's combat casualty treatment, as quoted by the Wall Street Journal. According to the CDC, roughly 1.7 million suffer a traumatic brain injury in the U.S. annually. 

Banyan Biomarkers, which is profiled in the story, announced in April it was starting a study designed to demonstrate the effectiveness of its proprietary protein biomarkers in detecting mild or moderate traumatic brain injury. The results of the study will be submitted to the FDA in preparation for an IDE pivotal trial.

So far, the company has used anesthetized rats encased in tiny body armor, hitting them in the head with miniature metal pistons and air blasts to simulate the impacts of accidents or explosions that injure the brain. When the rats awaken, scientists test their blood for the presence of proteins produced by an injured brain. And the data from the rats and more than 300 human patients suggests strong correlations between the degree of brain injury and the level of certain brain biomarkers, the paper notes.

SDIX and Banyan recentlyannounced a multi-year deal through which SDIX will provide products and services for Banyan's biomarker discovery work in the detection of traumatic brain injury. The companies will collaborate on the development of antibodies and immuno-solutions that include custom monoclonal and polyclonal antibody development; cell line banking and cryostorage; and antibody production and purification.

- here's the SDIX announcement
- see the Wall Street Journal report