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Scientists develop new blood test for concussions

By
Ryan Maass
Scientists say their new concussion test method provides greater accuracy than conventional approaches. Photo by frolicsomepl/Pixabay
Scientists say their new concussion test method provides greater accuracy than conventional approaches. Photo by frolicsomepl/Pixabay

LONDON, Ontario, Nov. 8 (UPI) -- Canadian scientists have developed a blood test capable of determining whether or not an adolescent athlete has experienced a concussion.

Diagnosing concussions is sometimes a challenge as it relies on a combination of clinical judgement and patient symptom assessment. Researchers at the Lawson Health Research Institute in Ontario say they have produced a solution that is more accurate than conventional methods.

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"This relatively quick and inexpensive blood test for concussion is by far the most accurate reported with tremendous potential for clinical management and commercialization," Lawson business development manager Kirk Brown said in a press release.

The test works by using blood drawn from a patient that may have experienced a concussion and measuring a panel of metabolites for specific patterns. Scientists say the assessment should be performed within 72 hours of the incident.

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A research team analyzed the test's effectiveness in a study published in the journal Metabolomics. During the last successful attempt, the study's authors examined a full spectrum of 174 metabolites.

"We looked at all of these metabolites in concussed male adolescent patients and in non-concussed male adolescent patients and it turns out that the spectrum is really different," researcher Mark Daley explained. "There is no one metabolite that we can put a finger on but when we looked at all of them, those profiles are different enough that we could easily distinguish concussed patients from non-concussed."

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While Daley concedes more work needs to be done to understand the patterns, he went on to add that looking at sets of as few as 20 to 40 specific molecules results in a diagnostic accuracy level of over 90 percent.

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In the future, the research team anticipates the blood tests will be improved to be able to predict concussion outcome and assist with rehabilitation. The technology is pending patent application approval.

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