Gainesville company Banyan was one of 16 companies to receive funding through the NFL and GE to improve the diagnosis and treatment of concussions. The company will conduct research on University of Florida athletes who suffer head injuries. The efforts of the 16 companies, including Alachua-based Banyan, hope to improve the safety of athletes, the military and the general public.
By Anthony Clark
University of Florida athletes who suffer head injuries will immediately be given a blood test that shows the severity of a possible brain injury under research funded by the NFL and GE to improve the diagnosis and treatment of concussions.
Banyan Biomarkers, an Alachua-based company that makes a blood test for traumatic brain injury, was one of 16 companies to receive $300,000 through the NFL and GE’s Head Health Challenge. Six companies, including Banyan Biomarkers, could be eligible for an additional $500,000 in 2015.
Banyan Biomarkers will work with Dr. Jay Clugston, a physician for UF teams, and other UF researchers to do finger-stick blood draws on consenting UF football, women’s soccer and women’s lacrosse players, according to a news release from UF.
The blood tests will be compared with magnetic resonance imaging findings. The goal is to create a test to diagnose brain injuries within 30 minutes to determine whether a player should return to the game.
“Not only does an injured player sometimes appear to be fine, but he or she may try to conceal symptoms in their competitive zeal to get back on the field,” Clugston said in the news release.
The awards were announced Thursday at NFL headquarters in New York.
The league has been under pressure for its handling of concussions, with thousands of former players filing suit and a federal judge in Philadelphia weighing whether to approve a proposed $765 million settlement meant to compensate players who have suffered complications from concussions.
The Head Health Challenge is seeking to improve the safety of athletes, the military and the general public. The NFL and GE launched the $60 million collaboration in March 2013. A second $10 million challenge open now is seeking materials to protect the brain and tools for tracking head impacts in real time.
An estimated 1.6 to 3.8 million sports-related traumatic brain injuries are reported in the U.S. each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Banyan Biomarkers was founded in 2002 by researchers at the University of Florida McKnight Brain Institute who discovered proteins from the breakdown of dying brain cells in blood.
The company developed tests to diagnose the presence and severity of traumatic brain injury.
Most of Banyan’s funding has come from the Department of Defense due to its use in diagnosing head trauma from explosions, along with funding from the National Institutes of Health and private investors
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