The discovery by researchers at the University of Florida's McKnight Brain Institute could lead to tests for the clinic or battlefield to diagnose ailments with just a few drops of blood, bypassing cumbersome and expensive CT or MRI brain scanning equipment.
The cellular debris, derived from a protein called NF-H, was not found in the blood or other fluids of healthy animals and humans. That leads researchers to believe it is a biomarker, a substance in blood that signals the presence of disease or injury.
"We could easily see that this particular protein is detectable very soon after a disease starts or an injury occurs," said Gerry Shaw, Ph.D., a professor of neuroscience in the College of Medicine. "A lot more of it is then released in the two or three days following a brain or spinal cord injury, which is interesting because it signals a kind of brain cell death that you could potentially do something about therapeutically."
The test would be helpful in emergency rooms or in combat situations if it could be developed into a simple handheld device that could confirm brain or spinal injury.
"Shaken-soldier syndrome is a traumatic brain injury that shows in veterans who have survived roadside blasts," said Douglas Anderson, Ph.D., chairman of neuroscience at the McKnight Brain Institute who participated in the research. "In patients who are unconscious but with no penetrating head wounds, it would be extremely helpful for emergency medical technicians to test for a marker to see how severe the injuries are. Then perhaps something can be done early on."
COMPAMED.de; Source: University of Florida