Blood test for brain injuries

Injuries to the brain are impossible to detect at the scene of an accident. Sometimes the full extent of the injury is not apparent until hours later, which can lead to fatal results. For doctors, a simple blood test to detect brain injury would help to limit these fatalities. It would reveal the patients who, despite not showing any signs, were actually seriously injured. It will also save money on expensive scans for those that are fine.

Researchers from the Healthcare Technologies Institute at the University of Birmingham and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital created the first blood test for brain damage in 2016.

image of brain test scanner xrayThe machine sorts blood samples from real patients as part of the trial. Those on the right hand side of the circle have brain damage.

Dr Pola Goldberg Oppenheimer, Research Fellow, University of Birmingham, said:

"The test works by looking for tiny amounts of chemicals produced when the brain is injured. A small drop of blood is placed on a silicon and gold chip, and then it is placed in a special detector for analysis. The test reveals accurately which patients have damage to the brain and which do not."

The finished device should be briefcase-sized and easy to keep in an ambulance, at a sports ground, or even in an army vehicle on a battlefield. The invention, which is hoping to be available in the near future, will save money and lives.

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Dr Pola Goldberg Oppenheimer, Reader in Micro-engineering and Bio-nanotechnology and Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow: