A week of diagnostic developments: biomarkers for brain injury and a plastic chip for multiple myeloma

Plastic chip may enable the faster and less invasive diagnosis of multiple myeloma

Blood biomarkers may have promise in the diagnosis of mild traumatic brain injury

Plastic chip may enable the faster and less invasive diagnosis of multiple myeloma

Georgi Makin (Future Science Group)

Results published in Integrative Biology describe a new University of Kansas (KS, USA) research effort to transform the current diagnostic practice for multiple myeloma by utilizing a plastic chip the size of a credit card for small blood samples, rather than performing a more invasive bone biopsy.

“For the last 10 years, we’ve been developing a blood-based test for a variety of cancer diseases -one of them is multiple myeloma,” Foundation Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Mechanical Engineering, Steven Soper, (University of Kansas) explained. “We’ll be able to eliminate the need for bone-marrow biopsies and allow the clinician to determine the best way to treat the disease using a blood draw. From this test, the clinician will be able to determine the stage of the disease, what type of drug will best treat the disease and monitor for signs of recurrence if the disease goes into remission.”

“The chip we’re using, because it is made from a plastic, can be injection molded, the same method that is used to produce CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray Discs,” Soper continued. “What’s really nice is we can produce these chips for a couple of dollars per chip, which makes it really appropriate for testing in a clinical setting.”

“We’ve demonstrated the utility of this technology in a variety of cancer diseases,” Soper concluded. “Here, we’re homing in on multiple myeloma, but we’ve developed tests for two forms of leukemia and for pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, colorectal cancer and breast cancer. With our technology, we’ll be able to see if patients are developing cancers before they have overt symptoms and help improve survival.”

Sources: Kamande JW, Lindell MAM, Witek MA, Voorhees PM, Soper SA. Isolation of circulating plasma cells from blood of patients diagnosed with clonal plasma cell disorders using cell selection microfluidics. Integr. Biol. 10(2): 82–91 (2018); www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180419141538.htm

Blood biomarkers may have promise in the diagnosis of mild traumatic brain injury

Rhiannon Finnie (Future Science Group)

Researchers from the University of California (CA, USA), Irvine (CA, USA), Georgetown University (DC, USA) and the University of Rochester (NY, USA) have discovered specific biomarkers in blood plasma that may be used to determine whether someone has sustained a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), commonly known as a concussion.

The article, recently published in PLOS One, reported discovering six specific molecules in blood plasma samples of a group of college athletes, previously diagnosed with mTBI. When these molecules were assessed, their combined presence accurately predicted whether teammates had sustained an mTBI. This suggests these molecules, and possibly others, might be clinically relevant biomarkers of mTBI.

These results were subsequently replicated when the same six biomarkers were tested in a separate group of individuals, including individuals with and without mTBI.

An objective biomarker of mTBI is not currently available. Therefore, a diagnostic test such as this has the potential to revolutionize the management of civilian and military concussions, including strategies to avoid post-concussive complications and more severe consequences such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Lead author, Massimo S Fiandaca (Georgetown University;), explained: “Such blood tests are important in determining not only whether someone has sustained a concussion, which is not currently an easy task, but may eventually prove useful in defining when injured individuals may be eligible to safely return to regular activities.”

Although the results are encouraging, the authors did report limitations of their study. They recommend further additional investigations, extending beyond biomarkers related to the six tested, to clarify their utility in clinical management.

Sources: Fiandaca MS, Mapstone M, Mahmoodi A et al. Plasma metabolomic biomarkers accurately classify acute mild traumatic brain injury from controls. PLOS One doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0195318 (2018) (Epub ahead of print); www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180420170602.htm