BY ANDY MILLER, Georgia Health News
Doctors at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta are on the cusp of discovering a potential blood biomarker that could detect children’s brain injuries.
Neurosurgeon Dr. Andrew Reisner and Neuropsychologist Laura Blackwell will continue their research through a $466,650 federal grant they just received from the National Institutes of Health.
The study will focus on the potential of osteopontin, a protein in blood, as a reliable biomarker using blood samples from 175 patients under 21 years of age.
The blood biomarker may be able to spot injuries, such as concussions, and the severity of the injury.
If successful, a biomarker could improve detection and treatment.
Currently, there is no simple lab test to monitor the progression of brain injury, said officials with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
“We are thrilled to receive this honor and recognition from the NIH,” said Dr. Andrew Reisner. “Identifying a potential blood biomarker for traumatic brain injuries in children could mean physicians at Children’s and around the world would be able to provide even more accurate and informed care for their patients.”
“At Children’s, our goal is to help kids recover from injuries and setbacks, and this study may provide us with another way to achieve that goal,” said Neuropsychologist Laura Blackwell.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, traumatic brain injuries caused about 2.5 million emergency department visits in the U.S. in 2010.
They also accounted for 30 percent of all injury-related deaths and 138 deaths every day.
The highest rate of traumatic brain injury-related ER visits is by people from birth to 24 years old.
Children’s Healthcare said kids who experience traumatic brain injuries are at greater risk of impaired thinking, memory, movement, sensation, emotional and behavioral functioning. This can negatively impact their quality of life and increase the amount of care needed throughout their life.