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Discovery may lead to blood test for brain injuries

Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center recently announced a discovery that may lead to the creation of a simple blood test that would help physicians diagnose whether a patient has suffered a traumatic brain injury. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is currently considering whether to support the development of a simple test for these kinds of injuries. Currently, no such test exists.

The test developed at URMC measures not one, but two proteins in a patient's blood. Doctors in Europe and other parts of the world already use a test to measure the protein S100B after initial examination indicates that a patient may have suffered a head injury. As published in the Journal of Neurotrauma, however, URMC researchers discovered that a second protein, known as apoA-1, is also released by the body after a person suffers a TBI.

Developing a simple blood test to help diagnose traumatic brain injuries is particularly important when someone has suffered a mild TBI. These sorts of injuries can sometimes be more pernicious than more obvious brain injuries because they can go unnoticed and untreated. Given recent studies showing the devastating impact of mild concussions on long-term brain health, providing fast, targeted treatment could mean all the difference in helping a patient recover.

In recent years, the problems associated with mild traumatic brain injuries have come to light mainly because of the experiences of professional athletes. These injuries have been common, too, among veterans returning from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Source: Medical Xpress, "New concussion data: two biomarkers better than one," June 18, 2013

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