A study published on Monday revealed that we can diagnose a concussion and predict how long the symptoms will last with a mere saliva test.
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that is caused by a blow to the head or the body. Concussions are accompanied by a range of symptoms ranging from headaches and nausea to blurry vision and memory problems.
They are especially common in boxers and football players. However, nearly two-thirds of concussions take place in children and teens, according to the study. Most symptoms disappear within two weeks while one-third of children and teens experience prolonged symptoms of concussions.
In the study published in the journal, JAMA Pediatrics, researchers found five genetic molecules in saliva, called microRNAs. They were able to identify concussive symptoms in 52 test subjects age seven to twenty-one, with an average age of fourteen. MicroRNAs are commonly found in the blood, spinal fluid and saliva.
These molecules were able to predict with 85 percent accuracy which concussed children would experience symptoms one month later. The new test registered a 20 percent increase in accuracy as opposed to the standard clinical surveys.
“Fortunately, the technology required to measure saliva RNA is already employed in medicine; we use it to check patients for upper respiratory viruses in our hospitals and clinics every day,” said Dr. Steve Hicks, the study’s lead author.
According to him, this approach will be able to provide a rapid and objective tool for managing brain injuries. The study was backed by Quadrant Biosciences, a biotech company that hopes to make the test available to the public in the next one to two years. While the test focused on kids this time, trials on adults and members of the Armed Forces are expected to follow.
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