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TGen, Barrow, Phoenix Children's Land $4M for Brain Injury RNA Sequencing Study

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Translational Genomics Research Institute, the Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, and Phoenix Children's Hospital have received a $4 million grant to search for biomarkers to identify which brain injury patients are at risk for devastating complications, TGen said today.

The funding from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences will support the use of RNA sequencing to hunt for biomarkers in brain injury patients that could identify which of them are likely to develop aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH) or intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH).

These complications can cause loss of blood flow in the brain, death of brain tissues, and hemorrhagic stroke, each of which can affect brain injury patients days after they have experienced their traumas. Currently, only about half of patients with brain-aneurysm ruptures survive, and those who do are often severely disabled for life, TGen said.

Because these secondary injuries tend to follow predictable courses after initial injuries, they are ideal candidates for biomarker identification, the researchers believe. Based on results from recent research, the partners think that RNA molecular markers could enable a new standard of personalized care for these patients and help clinicians respond quickly with early interventions to prevent these secondary injuries from occurring.

In the first two years of the five-year project, the TGen investigators and partners plan to use the Illumina HiSeq 2000 to sequence extracellular RNA from the cerebrospinal fluid and plasma of patients who present with aSAH and from plasma from premature infants who were born with IVH. They will have access to daily clinical evaluation records and outcome data from 25 patients from their clinical partners.

In the third through fifth years of the project the partners will continue to collect samples and will switch to using the Illumina MiSeq for biomarker validation studies because it offers faster fluidics, imaging, and shortened run times than the HiSeq.

"We are very excited about the potential for extracellular RNA to provide us with accessible information about the mechanism of disease, and in doing so, providing us with pre-symptomatic markers of disease," Matt Huentelman, an associate professor in TGen's Neurogenomics division, said in a statement.

Additional partners on the project include the University of California, San Francisco, and Stanford University.