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Emory Wins Funding for TBI Biomarker Study

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Emory University School of Medicine scientists will use a $2.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to try to discover protein biomarkers that can indicate a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Emory's researchers will use the funds to study patients already enrolled in a Phase III clinical trial studying the use of progesterone for TBI, and it will work with partners at the Medical University of South Carolina, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Michigan, and Banyan Biomarkers.

Using the large patient group from the clinical trials, the Emory researchers will seek to validate possible TBI biomarkers that could be predictors of clinical outcomes, and they will evaluate the relationship between progesterone treatment, biomarker levels, and outcomes.

Acute TBI sets off a series of cellular events that lead to brain swelling and cellular disruption, and tissue breakdown that releases proteins into the bloodstream. Several studies have shown that blood biomarkers can correlate with TBI outcomes, Emory said.

"Rapid clinical assessment of the severity of traumatic brain injury is a critical factor in diagnosis, treatment and prognosis," Michael Frankel, a neurology professor at Emory School of Medicine and director of Grady Hospital's Marcus Stroke & Neuroscience Center, said in a statement.

"This new biomarker study should allow us to refine risk assessment for patients with moderate and severe TBI and evaluate the relationships between progesterone levels, serum biomarkers of structural injury in the brain, and clinical outcome," added Frankel, who is principal investigator on the project. "This will not only help us assess the effectiveness of using progesterone to treat TBI, but will lead us to a more tailored approach for treatment of these patients."

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 1.4 million Americans sustain TBI each year, resulting in around 52,000 deaths.

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