A blood test to detect brain trauma


Researchers at the University of Geneva, in collaboration with the Hospitals in Barcelona, Madrid and Seville, have developed a small box that allows, with the aid of a single drop of blood, to diagnose the possibility of a slight brain trauma in the patient.

Falling down the stairs, a cycling accident, sports injury… all can lead to symptoms such as blurred vision, nausea, or momentary loss of consciousness. These symptoms may be the simple consequence of the violence of the shock and leave no after-effects but they can also be the sign of a concussion. That is why after a fall or shock, the injured must go to the emergency room to do a CT scan, an examination that sends x-rays to the brain to detect the presence or absence of head trauma.

To avoid waiting in hospital and unnecessary radiation, researchers at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), in collaboration with the Hospitals of Barcelona, Madrid and Seville have sought to isolate certain proteins whose presence in the blood increases in case of mild head trauma.

“Our idea was to find a way to do a quick exam that would allow, during a boxing match or a football game for example, to say if the athlete can return to the field or if his condition requires hospitalization, contrary to a CT Scan, a test that lasts a long time and that can not be done everywhere,” says Professor Jean-Charles Sanchez, Department of Internal Medicine Specialties and Center for Biomarkers of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Geneva.

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The researchers’ goal was to develop an apparatus to make the examination possible everywhere, quick and simple, and especially one that can obtained in pharmacy or in sports venues. The rapid diagnostic test that has been developed is in a simple small 5 cm plastic case. Inspired by the principle of the pregnancy test, TBIcheck works by putting a single drop of blood on the tongue of the case. In 10 minutes, the patient knows if there is a risk of a slight trauma. “The diagnosis is made by calculating the level of H-FABP in the blood, whether it is greater than 2.5 nanograms per milliliter of blood or not,” explains the specialist. “If a band appears, the injured must go for a CT scan, if there is nothing, he or she can go home safely!”

This first test should be commercialized as early as 2019. But Dr. Sanchez is continuing his research on biomarkers because, ultimately, the goal is to market biomarkers that can also diagnose stroke and aneurysms.

Shakes Gilles

Editor of The Talking Democrat. He enjoys bike riding, kayaking and playing soccer. On a slow weekend, you'll find him with a book by the lake.