Researchers develop handheld tool to help diagnose brain injury

28 June 2018 (Last Updated June 28th, 2018 11:59)

A research team at the University of Calgary in Canada is developing a new tool to allow accurate and fast measurement of proteins and small molecules that can indicate brain injuries, including concussion.

Researchers develop handheld tool to help diagnose brain injury
University of Calgary scientists. Credit: Fritzology.

A research team at the University of Calgary in Canada is developing a new tool to allow accurate and fast measurement of proteins and small molecules that can indicate brain injuries, including concussion.

The new handheld, smartphone-sized device will contain electrodes which can identify key biomarkers in the blood samples of patients, two hours after a suspected injury. It will only require a small amount of blood to conduct the test.

“We need a more precise and accurate way to detect concussion, as well as a way to predict recovery.”

This polyethylenimine modified graphene-oxide electrochemical immunosensor leverages microfluidic technology to automate the sensing protocol.

It is claimed to be at least 100 times more sensitive compared to other brain injury biomarker approaches that are being currently tested.

The researchers expect the tool to address the unmet diagnostic needs in clinics with limited resources, rural health-care setups, a lack of emergency vehicles and those affected by war.

In addition, the device is said to have the potential to enable priority-based injury diagnosis in clinics, while delivering primary interventions, injury assessment and prognosis in hospitals.

University of Calgary Cumming School of Medicine clinical assistant professor Chantel Debert said: “It would aid in diagnosing and determining outcomes, helping to ensure patients get their injury assessed quickly, and their total recovery monitored accurately.

“Currently concussion is diagnosed based on clinical judgment, which is subject to interpretation. We need a more precise and accurate way to detect concussion, as well as a way to predict recovery.”

Being developed under the university’s Integrated Concussion Research Program (ICRP), the diagnostic tool is ready to be advanced into clinical trials.