A new detection approach which uses minute chemical alterations in the body otherwise known as biomarkers, is being implemented as a new tool for detecting traumatic brain injury (TBI). The approach was originally developed for tuberculosis diagnostics however has been fornd to be useful in detecting TBI.
“The goal of this project is to not only detect traumatic brain injuries, but eventually to guide treatment as well,” said lead researcher Harshini Mukundan of Los Alamos National Laboratory. “We hope that our project will greatly benefit the care and recovery of veterans and deployed troops,”
The current method of diagnosis for TBI typically includes a variety of questionnaires that include short-term memory assessments with questions such “What day is this?” and “Where are we today?”, which can range from mild concussion to severe brain damage; however, a more quantitative diagnostic would be more desirable as it would provided more conclusive and tangible evidence for the diagnosis.
Looking for unique biomarkers that are produced after a brain injury is a promising approach to TBI diagnose as biomarkers are traceable substances that occur in an organism and provide indications about its function or health. Being able to detect traumatic brain injury in the initial stages post injury will help to speed up service delivery from a number of specialists that are involved in rehabilitation which is often time critical in cases of TBI. Biomarkers can be difficult to detect but the Samitaur-Los Alamos research team are tackling the task of characterising these small, immediate changes that occur in a human body during mild to severe brain injury. The work requires identifying and labelling brain biomarkers in both normal and injured patients.
“The multi-disciplinary technical team at Los Alamos brings together expertise in mass spectrometry, optical waveguide biosensor detection, biomarker discovery and diagnostics, as well as data correlation methods to analyze cerebrospinal fluid from both normal and TBI patients. The team has experience in working with complex challenges such as this, and transitioning laboratory based development to real-world applications. The project is being conducted in conjunction with Samitaur Medical Technologies (SMT), which recently signed a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with the laboratory for this purpose.”