Rapid blood test to detect brain injury in 15 minutes: Study

September 23 2020

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In a major study, researchers have discovered that a blood protein test could detect the severity of head trauma in under 15 minutes.

According to the study, published in the Journal of Neurotrauma, the researchers have shown that glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) can accurately determine the severity of a brain injury through a blood test.

Now, the research team advanced the development of a point-of-care testing device which is designed to help clinicians assess traumatic brain injury (TBI) in minutes.

"This would eliminate the guesswork in diagnosing TBIs and learn whether a person needs further treatment," said study author David Okonkwo from the University of Pittsburgh in the US.

For the rapid test, the vision included using a hand-held device with a cartridge that would measure GFAP in a patient's blood.

The GFAP is a Food and Drug Administration-approved marker for ruling out whether a patient needs a head computed tomography (CT) scan within 12 hours after a mild TBI.

For this study, researchers enrolled 1,497 people who sought care at one of the 18 Transforming Research and Clinical Knowledge in TBI (TRACK-TBI) level 1 trauma centres nationwide over four years.

For years, scientists have studied blood tests involving GFAP. They have also studied a similar protein called S100B. Both proteins are released in the bloodstream in response to specific injuries, including TBI.

But this study showed that GFAP substantially outperformed S100B as a TBI diagnostic marker.

"Knowing this protein can show the severity of a TBI through a simple blood test is promising when considering we can use a device that already is in widespread use in hospitals, doctors' offices and urgent care facilities," Okonkwo said.

He estimated this device could potentially decrease unnecessary CT scans by 20 per cent or more, saving nearly $100 million in medical expenses annually.

For the rapid test, the vision included using a hand-held device with a cartridge that would measure GFAP in a patient's blood.

Researchers at Abbott Laboratories, a global health care company, will need to finalize the test for the i-STAT device, which is already used by the military and health care providers around the world to perform several common blood tests within minutes.

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  • IANS