Firm estimates 5.3 million Americans live with traumatic brain injury-related disabilities.

Banyan Biomarkers won a $26.3 million contract from the U.S. Department of Defense to develop a point-of-care test for diagnosing traumatic brain injury (TBI). The firm claims the award will fund research to develop a test with applications for civilian use as well as military.

Florida-based Banyan was established in 2002 to develop the first point-of-care test for diagnosing TBI. The firm says it has identified biomarkers that are specifically present in a patient’s blood after injury to the brain, and has developed ELISA assays to quantify the markers. There is currently no blood test that clinicians can use to detect the presence or severity of brain trauma, Banyon points out.

The firm is complementing its diagnostics development by offering a range of core biomarkers for research applications along with service offerings based on its panel of neurological, psychiatric, neurodegenerative disease, and organ toxicity biomarker assays. Additional analytical services use the firm’s animal models and primary neuronal culture models of neuroinjury or neurotoxicity.

Banyan also operates a Center of Innovative Research (CoIR) to promote relevant research by both the academic and industrial communities. The CoIR promotes basic and applied human disease research that is focused on brain disorders, but it also includes other organ systems such as liver damage.

Banyan cites estimates suggesting that over 1.4 million people annually suffer a TBI in the U.S., resulting in more than 230,000 hospitalizations, 50,000 deaths, and 80,000–90,0000 people experiencing permanent disability from their injury. Currently, 5.3 million Americans live with TBI-related disabilities, compared with 4 million who are disabled by Alzheimer disease, the firm notes. In the military, it is estimated that up to 20% of combat veterans have suffered some degree of traumatic brain injury due to bomb blasts while in Iraq or Afghanistan.

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