Salivary microRNA may predict duration and nature of concussion symptoms among children

Thursday, November 23, 2017 Child Health News
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Little known molecule may be at the heart of concussion diagnosis and treatment

HERSHEY, Pa., Nov. 22, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Small molecules in saliva may hold the key to predicting the type and duration

of concussion symptoms, according to a study just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  In a paper titled "Association of Salivary microRNA Changes with Prolonged Concussion Symptoms," researchers from Penn State Medical Center have identified these small molecules, called microRNA, as potential biomarkers for predicting the duration and nature of concussion symptoms.  This groundbreaking research was funded, in part, by Quadrant Biosciences Inc., a translational research company based in Syracuse, New York that hopes to bring a saliva test to market within the next year or two.

More than 2 million children and adolescents experience concussions each year. While the majority of concussion symptoms resolve within a couple of weeks, as many as one-third of these patients may experience prolonged symptoms.  Despite the prevalence of the injury, there are currently no objective tools to identify children at risk for these prolonged concussion symptoms.

Enter researchers from Penn State who, along with neuro scientists from SUNY Upstate Medical University, had previously identified microRNA, small non-coding RNA, in the saliva as viable biomarkers for identifying concussion in adolescents.  Building on these findings, the Penn State researchers sought to determine whether these microRNA could further predict the nature and duration of concussion symptoms - something that would be particularly beneficial to children with prolonged concussion symptoms.

To answer this question, the Penn State team studied 52 children between the ages of 7 and 21 years who had suffered a concussion. In addition to collecting salivary microRNA, the children were evaluated with the Sports Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT-3) parent and child surveys, a well-accepted concussion symptom assessment tool. The results were impressive.  Concentrations of five microRNA were found to accurately identify prolonged concussion status 85% of the time, and three microRNA were associated with specific concussion symptoms such as headaches, fatigue and difficulties concentrating.  

Moreover, microRNA levels were found to be significantly more effective than the SCAT-3 survey in predicting which children would continue to experience headaches, fatigue, concentration difficulties and other concussion symptoms more than 4 weeks out.  Thus, not only were these microRNA an accurate predictor of the duration of recovery, they were also highly correlated with specific symptoms.

"While previous studies have shown that microRNA levels in the body may change after a concussion, this is the first to show that measuring those levels in saliva may be used to predict the duration and character of a child's concussion symptoms," noted Dr. Steven Hicks, MD, Ph.D., FAAP, Assistant Professor in Pediatrics, Penn State Hershey Medical Center and one of the lead investigators on the study.  Hicks further explained that these findings may have a significant impact on the way youth concussions are diagnosed and treated.  "A quick, accurate, and objective tool that predicts the duration of concussion symptoms could be an enormous asset to patients and physicians. This kind of knowledge could drive decisions about return-to-play, return-to-school, and other medical therapies."

Richard Uhlig, CEO of Quadrant Biosciences, expressed enthusiasm over the clinical and practical implications of this research discovery. "This [research] will have a profound effect on the way clinicians approach concussion management and treatment, and positively change the trajectory of recovery for so many kids.  Moreover, we fully expect that this line of inquiry will lead to similar applications in adults, so it is extremely gratifying to have a part in this important research."

Finally, Hicks noted that, while additional research validating these biomarkers is warranted, it represents a potential sea change in the way clinicians look at concussion.  "Prospective validation of this approach in a large number of children will be necessary before the results can be translated to clinical practice, but I am hopeful that saliva-based testing may have a dramatic impact on how we diagnose and manage brain injury in the future."

Quadrant Biosciences Inc. is a Life science company involved in the development of functional assessments and epigenetic diagnostic solutions for large-scale health issues.  The company participates in the Start-up NY program, a New York State economic development program. Quadrant Biosciences has also entered into collaborative research relationships with a number of institutions including SUNY Upstate Medical University and Penn State University to explore and develop novel biomarker technologies with a focus on Autism Spectrum Disorder, concussion, and Parkinson's Disease.  For more information contact them at [email protected] or visit their website at www.QuadrantBiosciences.com.

 

View original content:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/salivary-microrna-may-predict-duration-and-nature-of-concussion-symptoms-among-children-300561063.html

SOURCE Quadrant Biosciences Inc.



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