A biomarker can be a telling sign for a specific condition. According to the National Cancer Institute, a biomarker is “a biological molecule found in blood, other body fluids or tissuesthat is a sign of a normal or abnormal process, or of a condition or disease.” Biomarkers are frequently used in the treatment of many conditions, but there hasn’t been much success in the use of biomarkers for mental health disorders and traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
Currently, many researchers are looking to create and test new biomarkers on patients with mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and TBI, NPR reports in an article. Private foundations and the United States military are currently funding an effort to identify biomarkers for PTSD and TBI. The effort will “explore whether changes in certain brain chemicals like cortisol and norepinephrine … could be signals of PTSD,” according to NPR. In addition, a private company, Banyan Biomarkers, has received about $6 million from private investors to pursue trials on biomarkers for TBI.
Banyan has developed a blood test that the company claims can detect signs of TBI. The company recently signed a $26.3 million contract with the Department of the Defense to begin clinical trials of the test on 2,000 patients in eight locations around the United States. “The technology developed at Banyan supports the DoD mission to improve the medical management of brain-injured troops and led to the contract for the pivotal trial,” the chief executive, Dr. Jackson Streeter, told U-T San Diego.
The study is estimated to conclude in February 2014, and will involve male and female TBI patients age 18 and older, according to ClinicalTrials.gov. The trial will involve a head CT scan and blood draw within the first 12 hours of injury. The company reports that it is also testing the method’s effectiveness for recognizing concussions in college athletes. Banyan was founded in Gainesville, Florida, but is relocating its operations to Southern California.