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November 7, 2011

Roskamp institute studies may lead to better diagnosis and eventual treatment of traumatic brain injuries

Sarasota, Fla. New studies by a researcher at the Roskamp Institute could lead to better diagnosis and eventual treatment for U.S. military personnel and other patients with traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

“We have found that there are changes in blood proteins that occur after a head injury, and that these are dependent on the severity of the injury, the time since the injury and genetic factors influencing outcomes after head injury” said Fiona Crawford, Ph.D., associate director of the Sarasota-based Institute, a leading research center for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders. “Translating these findings from the laboratory to human patients may help clinicians determine the extent of the brain injury, how long ago the injury occurred and the patient’s prognosis for a favorable or a poor outcome.”

Crawford presented her laboratory findings, which were based on an experimental model, at the North American Brain Injury Society and the National Neurotrauma Symposium. A paper on Crawford’s potentially prognostic and diagnostic biomarkers for TBI has just been published in the Journal of Neurotrauma, while a second study relating to potential therapeutic approaches has been submitted for publication.

Crawford’s research indicates that TBI can affect cellular mechanisms in the brain long after the original trauma, and that blood biomarkers reflect these ongoing processes. “TBI has multiple consequences at the cellular level and so molecular changes can persist for weeks and months after the initial brain swelling and other immediate issues have resolved,” she said.On Tuesday, November 8, Crawford will present a synopsis of her findings to veterans and their families at The Roskamp Institute’s auditorium, followed by a presentation on the Institute’s clinical care services and a tour of the research laboratories.

Crawford’s work is supported by the U.S. Department of Defense, and the Veterans Administration, because it could lead to better diagnosis of military personnel with mild brain injuries and better long-term care of our veterans. The US Military reports nearly 180,000 cases of TBI from 2000 to March 2010, 140,000 of these being classified as mild TBI, which has been termed the signature wound of the war.

Crawford is recruiting troops in active service as well as patients at the Tampa Veterans Administration Hospital for follow-up studies to see how her laboratory findings translate into clinical care.

“Identifying blood biomarkers of mild TBI would improve medical management by enabling us to identify patients who need treatment or intervention, even if they do not have obvious signs of a brain injury,” Crawford said. “We have also identified molecular pathways in the brain that are disrupted by TBI. These could eventually lead to the development of medical treatments precisely targeted to those damaged molecular pathways.” Overall, there were about 1.7 million U.S. TBI cases annually from 2002 to 2006, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data. However, many individuals with mild trauma may not realize they have been injured or may not seek treatment, so the actual incidence is likely to be higher. The Roskamp Institute is devoted to understanding causes and finding cures for neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders and addictions. The Institute utilizes a broad range of scientific approaches to understanding the causes of and potential therapies for these disorders with an emphasis on Alzheimer's disease. The Institute and its memory clinic are located in Sarasota, Florida.

The Roskamp Institute is a not-for-profit research Institute located in Sarasota and Tampa, Florida, that is dedicated to understanding the causes of, and finding cures for, neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders and addictions with an emphasis on Alzheimer's disease. The Institute’s Memory Clinics also offer comprehensive cognitive and medical assessment toward differential diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and offers treatments and disease management options once the diagnostic evaluation is complete.

For more information regarding this news release, please contact Steve Klindt (email: sklindt@roskampinstitute.net) or 941-752-2949 x390.

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