Hospitals

Cleveland Clinic gets federal grant for concussion-diagnosis blood test

Cleveland Clinic researchers have received a $250,000 federal grant to continue studying a blood test that’s aimed at identifying concussions in football players. The test focuses on a biomarker called S100B, elevated levels of which can signify brain damage, according to a statement from the Clinic. A biomarker is a protein found in the blood […]

Cleveland Clinic researchers have received a $250,000 federal grant to continue studying a blood test that’s aimed at identifying concussions in football players.

The test focuses on a biomarker called S100B, elevated levels of which can signify brain damage, according to a statement from the Clinic. A biomarker is a protein found in the blood that can indicate the presence or severity of a certain disease.

The test would compare players’ blood samples taken before and after a game, and offer several advantages over current methods of concussion diagnosis.

Concussions are typically diagnosed with subjective cognitive or behavioral tests, sometimes coupled with costly imaging scans like CTs or MRIs. The test being developed by the Clinic researchers could offer an definitive conclusion as to whether a player has suffered a concussion, can be performed in a locker room and would be significantly cheaper ($20) compared to current methods of concussion identification.

“As these injuries continue to occur in our athletes, we need to discover solutions for faster, more-efficient diagnosis, which is what we expect this blood test to do,” said Damir Janigro, the study’s lead researcher.

Nearly 4 million Americans are estimated to suffer from concussions each year, but what’s really generated attention around concussions are the injuries suffered by football players. Concussions and player safety became one of the top storylines of last year’s NFL season, with numerous players suffering the injury and many others subject to fines for delivering illegal blows to another player’s head (much like a particularly vicious hit from Cleveland Browns safety T.J. Ward to Cincinnati Bengals receiver Jordan Shipley).

Cleveland Clinic is working on several other concussion-related projects related to sports. One involves a mobile app that uses the iPad 2‘s built-in accelerometer and gyroscope to measure post-injury changes in an athlete’s balance, which is an indicator of brain function. Another project involves developing an “Intelligent Mouthguard” that measures the number and severity of hits to the head among athletes, and could eventually be used by football players and boxers.

Photo from flickr user aaronisnotcool