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Detecting traumatic brain injuries in the field

NSF Award:

Nebraska 2010-15 RII Project: Nanohybrid Materials & Algal Biology  (University of Nebraska)

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) contribute to a third of all injury-related deaths in the U.S. Because faster detection of TBIs could improve treatment and save lives, David Hage of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (and a member of the Nebraska Center for Nanohybrid Functional Materials [CNFM)]) began working on a TBI-detection device in partnership with Arkansas-based SFC Fluidics.  Now nearing commercialization, the prototype device identifies antibodies that bind to proteins produced by the brain as a result of a head trauma.

To recognize the antibodies, the device relies on high-performance affinity chromatography (HPAC), a kind of biochemical trap. HPAC is a separation method in which a liquid sample, like blood, passes through a tiny column that traps target molecules by linking them to binding molecules packed in the column. In the brain injury example, a sample of blood travels through a column packed with specific antibodies encased in nanohybrid particles that latch onto the brain injury protein. Detection limits will range from picograms (one trillionth of a gram) to nanograms (one billionth of a gram).

CNFM is a coalition of Nebraska researchers from five colleges and universities working to harness nanohybrid molecules for novel separation and detection devices.

Images (1 of )

  • a blood sample can help identify traumatic brain injury
  • proteins from brain injuries attach to antibodies in a detection device
A prototype diagnostic device can identify traumatic brain injuries in the field.
Paul Thompson, Arthur Toga and Colin Holmes, UCLA
A device can detect traumatic brain injuries using a blood sample.
David Hage, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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