The Department of Defense (DOD) has awarded a contract to Abbott Laboratories, an Illinois-based company, to develop a blood test that can aid in concussion detection. A Navy Times news report notes that the $19.5 million 2-year contract, awarded in August, will go towards the development of a kit that may detect two proteins found in the bloodstream after a blow to the head. The end goal is to have a cartridge that can be inserted into an Abbott-made analyzer currently in use by the DOD that measures heart, liver, and kidney function.

The Navy Times news report indicates that the new would register the proteins, providing verification of a head injury that can’t be detected by conventional scanning equipment. Army Col. Dallas Hack says if successful, the test could be used in training, on the battlefield, and on sports sidelines. Hack says, “We’ve measured [one of these proteins] up to two days after a mild traumatic brain injury and up to a week later for the other. The challenge for us has been how to actually do these tests in a way they can be run by a clinical laboratory.”

More than 300,000 troops have suffered a head injury since 2000, which has led the military to invest $1.7 billion in traumatic brain injury (TBI) since 2007, according to the Navy Times news report. Hack says this next effort comes after a successful study of the protein biomarkers involving 2,000 patients.

Former Army Sgt. Adam Anicich states, “It’s critical we find a test that immediately identifies a TBI because it would allow us to identify what challenges are going to be associated with the individual, in terms of inserting them back in the fight or how we can assist in their recovery immediately.”

Beth McQuiston, MD, medical director for Abbott, warned that a portable test is still a couple of years away. McQuiston declares, “It’s too early to say [how long it will take]. We’re at the first steps of the journey, and we’re going to put everything we have into this.”

Source: Navy Times