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UT researchers helped create the first FDA-approved lab test for TBI in the U.S.

Alinity i tests for elevated levels of two biomarkers in peoples' blood – which are directly correlated with TBI – and can diagnose someone in 18 minutes.

AUSTIN, Texas — Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin helped contribute to the first commercially available lab test for traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in the U.S.

A new report from UT states that researchers at the PsyBrain Lab helped contribute to the "Alinity i" technology that has been approved of by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Alinity i tests for elevated levels of two different biomarkers in peoples' blood – which are directly correlated with TBI – and can help diagnose someone in 18 minutes.

Before the FDA approved Alinity i, produced by Abbott Laboratories, TBI diagnosis was done by subjective assessments on CT scans that showed brain tissue damage or lesions. The new technology will help more patients get diagnosed and receive the proper treatment if they have a suspected mild case of TBI or concussion, as most people do not see a doctor after suffering these injuries.

“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 the PsyBrain Lab. “The Alinity i test can be used when a patient shows up to the hospital with a suspected TBI within 12 hours of injury.”

This research came out of the TRACK-TBI network, which is a multisite clinical trial network, and mainly focused on diagnosing mild cases of TBI. UT's lab has been working with this network since 2008 to help identify the biomarkers associated with TBIs and later confirm the hypothesis of accuracy in a blood test. 

Credit: David Schnyer

These blood tests showed a 99.4% accuracy rate when reporting negative results, meaning that patients who tested negative do not have to take further tests.

“It’s an advancement to celebrate,” said Robin McGee, chief study coordinator for PsyBrain Lab. “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?’” 

Abbott Laboratories will be participating with five labs to broaden the reach of the TBI blood test, which includes children. The PsyBrain Lab will be one of the five labs included. 

Read the full report from UT. 

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