AUSTIN (KXAN) — Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin’s PsyBrain Lab helped develop the first commercially-available laboratory test for traumatic brain injury, or TBI, in the U.S., UT announced Wednesday.
The university said the Food and Drug Administration just approved the Alinity i test.
According to the announcement, the Alinity i test looks for elevated levels of two biomarkers in blood which it said are “tightly correlated with brain injury.” UT said the technology, produced by Abbott Laboratories, can diagnose patients in as little as 18 minutes.
The announcement said before Alinity i was available, doctors had to use “subjective assessments” and CT scans to detect brain tissue damage or lesions.
UT said the test can provide “greater certainty for patients and doctors.”
It hopes the Alinity i test might encourage more people to get help if they think they may have a TBI.
“This work demonstrated the accuracy of a blood test that can reduce the number of unnecessary CT scans and reduce the amount of time a patient may spend in the emergency department,” said David Schnyer, professor and chair of the Department of Psychology who oversees PsyBrain Lab, in the announcement. “The Alinity i test can be used when a patient shows up to the hospital with a suspected TBI within 12 hours of injury.”
The research was part of the TRACK-TBI network, which is a multisite clinical trial network that focuses on diagnosing mild TBI.
According to UT Austin, PsyBrain Lab has been part of the TRACK-TBI network since it started in 2008, “helping both to identify the biomarkers that indicate TBIs and later to confirm the blood test’s accuracy in finding them.” The tests showed it to accurately report 99.4% of negative results. Patients who test negative don’t have to use more expensive and time-consuming testing techniques, UT said.
“It’s an advancement to celebrate,” said Robin McGee, chief study coordinator for PsyBrain Lab, in the UT announcement. “When educating patients, doctors and nurses ‘on the ground’ in the emergency department about our work, they are unequivocally impressed. They say, ‘A blood test for concussion?’”
According to UT, PsyBrain Lab will soon take part in an Abbott Laboratory study that will test if Alinity i works in children.