CLN Daily

A Blood Test for the Brain: It “Can-Cushion” the Blow

Joe El-Khoury, PhD

In February 2018, the FDA authorized marketing of the first blood test to aid in the evaluation of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), commonly referred to as concussion, in adults. With more than 2.5 million TBI-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths reported in the US annually, the effect of this test is expected to be significant. Today, attendees of the AACC Annual Scientific Meeting will have the opportunity to learn more about this blood test, the Brain Trauma Indicator (BTI), during a special session with experts Frank Peacock, MD, Robert Christenson, PhD, and Robert Welch, MD. The speakers will cover how to identify and validate potential TBI biomarkers, the algorithm used for interpretation of the BTI test, and ways these biomarkers can be used in healthcare.

Concussion and TBI result from an impact to the head by an external force that causes impaired cognitive and/or physical function, with around 50,000 related deaths in the US each year. Current initial assessment of concussion and TBI include baseline and post-injury evaluation of cognitive function, which is non-specific because the majority of patients with concussion symptoms have a negative computerized tomography (CT) scan. Imaging studies such as CT scans are required to confirm the diagnosis, but are very costly to the health system, especially with poor screening tools.

The BTI is a promising screening test that can predict the absence of intracranial lesions on a CT scan 99.6% of the time. This test measures two brain-specific proteins—ubiquitin C-terminal hydrolase-L1 (UCH-L1) and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP)—with an algorithm developed for BTI determination using UCH-L1 and GFAP cutoff concentrations.

As the BTI test grows in demand over the next few years, stakeholders are encouraged to understand how this algorithm is used along with the clinical assessment, Glasgow score, and CT scan. For laboratory professionals, we must become familiar with the measurement technology and how to monitor the biomarkers to ensure optimum performance.We are fortunate to have the experts here at the AACC Annual Scientific Meeting today to help us learn more about BTI and its clinical utility. “I feel very fortunate to have been involved with examining early TBI biomarkers,” Christenson said. “I am highly motivated to speak with colleagues and share the experiences, characteristics of the tests, and discuss appropriate utilization and a path forward.”

Interested in finding out how the TBI markers can be used to benefit patients and decrease healthcare costs? Learn more about this hot topic at today’s late-breaking morning session.