FDA approves blood test that can detect concussions 

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 10:58 PM

Maxime Chanot #4 of New York City FC holds his head after a clash of heads form a corner kick during the New York City FC Vs San Jose Earthquakes regular season MLS game at Yankee Stadium on April 1, 2017 in New York City. 
Tim Clayton - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images
Maxime Chanot #4 of New York City FC holds his head after a clash of heads form a corner kick during the New York City FC Vs San Jose Earthquakes regular season MLS game at Yankee Stadium on April 1, 2017 in New York City. (Tim Clayton - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved a breakthrough blood test that can help detect concussions in adults.

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The blood test, also known as the Banyan Brain Trauma Indicator Test, works by measuring UCH-L1 and GFAP, both proteins released from the brain into the blood, within 12 hours of a head injury.

It can be administered as soon as 15 minutes after the injury, but results take a few hours to produce.

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According to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, traumatic brain injury is a “serious public health problem in the United States.” In 2013 alone, there were about 2.8 million visits to emergency rooms for traumatic brain injury-related conditions. Of these, nearly 50,000 people died.

TBI is typically caused by a blow or bump to the head, or a by a head injury that disrupts the brain’s normal functioning. It can range from mild to severe. About 75 percent of TBIs that occur each year are assessed as mild TBIs or concussions. 

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Most patients with traumatic brain injury undergo a neurological exam, followed by a CT scan.

For their research, the FDA evaluated data on 1,947 individual blood samples from adults with suspected mild TBI or concussion and reviewed the product’s performance by comparing blood test results with CT scan results.

They found the blood test was 97.5 percent as effective in detecting concussion and 99.6 perfect as effective in ruling out the injury.

The test also costs as little as one-tenth as much as a CT scan.

» RELATED: Which high school sports have the most concussions? 

"A blood test that accurately, reliably and consistently detects the presence of brain proteins that appear in the blood after a brain injury is a major advance," Dr. David Dodick, a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology who specializes in sports medicine and neurology, told CNN. Dodick was not involved in the study.

One of the challenges of diagnosing concussions is that the injury’s symptoms can occur at various times. For some, they appear instantly. Others may not experience symptoms for hours or even days.

» RELATED: Football players under 12 at high risk of brain injury, study finds

Symptoms also vary from person to person. Some may experience light or noise sensitivity, or may lose balance.

“This is something that has been a long time coming,” Col. Dallas Hack, who was director of the Army’s Combat Casualty Care Research Program from 2008 to 2014 and is now retired, told the New York Times. 

“The concept originally was that we would have something that medical personnel in the field would be able to use to assess whether somebody who had received a head injury needed a higher level of care,” Hack said.

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But Dodick told CNN that researchers still need to better understand when brains have fully healed from trauma and how the protein biomarkers may actually affect prognosis. Additionally, it’s unclear whether or not the new test can determine subconcussive blows, hits to the head that don’t always cause symptoms but do cause brain injury. 

Subconcussive or repeat blows are believed to lead to the neurodegenerative disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. Over time, that damage may lead to personality changes, mood disorders and other behavioral issues.

"These occur much more often than actual concussions, especially in certain collision and contact sports,” Dodick told CNN.

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Teacher finds meowing cat in student’s backpack

Published: Friday, March 23, 2018 @ 12:58 PM

Meowing Cat Found in Student’s Backpack

One fourth grade student’s backpack was quite literally the cat’s meow.

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Fourth grade teacher Carey Geipel started looking around her classroom after she heard meowing during a planning period March 16 only to discover a student brought a cat to school hidden in a backpack, according to a Facebook post

“We listen to a purse, lunchbox... it must be a cell phone ringing,” she wrote. “Nope. It’s coming from the backpacks. I lift a jacket and a backpack MOVES. I unzip the backpack and a cat’s head POPS out!”

Geipel made a phone call home to the student’s mother, who came and picked up the cat.

“Hello, Student is safe but we have kind of a weird situation,” Geipel wrote, recounting the conversation. “Your student brought a cat to school, on the bus, in her backpack.”

It turns out it is not even their cat, it belongs to their neighbor.

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12-year-old boy missing after getting on wrong school bus

Published: Friday, March 23, 2018 @ 5:58 PM

A 12-year-old boy has been missing for two days after getting on the wrong school bus at a metro Atlanta middle school.
A 12-year-old boy has been missing for two days after getting on the wrong school bus at a metro Atlanta middle school.(Pixabay)

A 12-year-old boy disappeared after getting on the wrong school bus on his way home from middle school in metro Atlanta.   

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Anthony Randolph III disappeared Wednesday after boarding the wrong bus at Redan Middle School in DeKlab County, police said.

Investigators said the boy got off the bus two miles away from his home.

He wasn’t supposed to be on that bus and school officials said they are working to figure out why the bus driver didn’t take him back to school.

“We need you home Anthony, fast, please,” the child’s father, Anthony Randolph Jr., said.

Randolph wiped away tears as he begged anyone with information on the disappearance of his son to come forward.

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A search is underway as police continue investigating the boy’s disappearance.

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Soaps and paint pollute air as much as car emissions, study shows

Published: Friday, March 23, 2018 @ 4:58 PM

A new study finds paints and soaps cause emissions that can pollute the air, just like vehicle emissions.
A new study finds paints and soaps cause emissions that can pollute the air, just like vehicle emissions.(Pixabay)

For many years, motor vehicle emissions were the primary source of air pollution in urban areas. But with increased regulations and better engines, that has changed. While industry professionals and government leaders worked to address pollution from cars, little notice was given to the effects of other commonly used consumer products. Now, research shows that chemicals in soaps, perfumes, household cleaners, pesticides and paints have been recognized to pollute our air about as much as car emissions.

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The research, recently published in the journal Science, found that many of the products we use daily in our homes contain compounds refined from petroleum.

"People use a lot more fuel than they do petroleum-based compounds in chemical products--about 15 times more by weight, according to the new assessment. Even so, lotions, paints and other products contribute about as much to air pollution as the transportation sector does," Dr. Brian McDonald, a researcher in the Chemical Sciences Division at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who led the study, said in a press release.

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"As transportation gets cleaner, those other sources become more and more important," McDonald added. "The stuff we use in our everyday lives can impact air pollution."

The new assessment focused on what are referred to as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These compounds can seep into the atmosphere, reacting to create particle or ozone matter, which are regulated in the U.S. and many other countries. They can cause a variety of health problems, including damage to the lungs.

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Most people living in urban areas assume that car pollution is still the biggest problem, as it was for the past few decades. But according to the new NOAA report, that is no longer the notable threat. In fact, researchers concluded that the level of VOCs emitted by consumer and industrial products is "two or three times greater than estimated by current air pollution inventories, which also overestimate vehicular sources."

While the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that about 75 percent of fossil VOC emissions came from fuel-related sources, and just 25 percent from consumer and industrial products. The NOAA analysis puts the ratio around 50-50.

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"Concentrations are often 10 times higher indoors than outdoors, and that's consistent with a scenario in which petroleum-based products used indoors provide a significant source to outdoor air in urban environments," McDonald said.

It may seem strange to some that common products, such as perfume and household cleaners, could have such a major impact on pollution. But the effects of common household items starts to make sense when we consider how they are used and stored.

"Gasoline is stored in closed, hopefully airtight, containers and the VOCs in gasoline are burned for energy," NOAA atmospheric scientist Dr Jessica Gilman, a co-author of the new paper, told The Independent.

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"But volatile chemical products used in common solvents and personal care products are literally designed to evaporate. You wear perfume or use scented products so that you or your neighbor can enjoy the aroma. You don't do this with gasoline."

Experts are lauding the new study for pointing out sources of pollution that often get little attention.

"This research is a useful reminder that discussions of air pollution need to consider all sources of pollutants and that measures targeting cars only address part of the problem," Professor Anthony Frew, a respiratory medicine specialist at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, said.

But Frew also cautioned that the study doesn't mean regulating traffic emissions is unimportant.

>> Related: Worst global warming predictions likely the most accurate, study finds

"Traffic remains an important source of pollution and we still need to reduce the number of vehicle-miles driven per year by personal and commercial vehicles," he said.

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National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster out; former U.S. ambassador John Bolton in

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 6:37 PM

Who Is H.R. McMaster, Trump’s National Security Adviser

National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster is resigning from the Trump administration and will be replaced by former U.S. ambassador John Bolton, according to a tweet Thursday afternoon from President Donald Trump.

>> Read more trending newsWho is H.R. McMaster, Trump's national security advisor

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster attends a meeting between President Donald Trump and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Oval Office at the White House on March 20, 2018 in Washington, D.C.(Pool/Getty Images)

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