New research led by scientists at Arizona State University has revealed some of the first detailed molecular clues associated with one of the leading causes of death and disability, a condition known as traumatic brain injury (TBI).
TBI is a growing public health concern, affecting more than 1.7 million Americans at an estimated annual cost of $76.5 billion dollars. It is a leading cause of death and disability for children and young adults in industrialized countries, and people who experience TBI are more likely to develop severe, long-term cognitive and behavioral deficits.
“Unfortunately, the molecular and cellular mechanisms of TBI injury progression are multifaceted and have yet to be fully elucidated,” said Sarah Stabenfeldt, an ASU professor and the leader and corresponding author of the study, which appears in the journal Science Advances. “Consequently, this complexity affects the development of diagnostic and treatment options for TBI; the goal of our research was to address these current limitations.”
Their research approach was to perform a “biopanning” search to reveal several key molecular signatures, called biomarkers, identified directly after immediately after the injury event (the acute phase), and also the long-term consequences (the chronic phase) of TBI.
“For TBI, the pathology evolves and changes over time, meaning that a single protein or receptor may be upregulated at one phase of the injury, but not two weeks later,” said Sarah Stabenfeldt. “This dynamic environment makes developing a successful targeting strategy complicated.”
To overcome these limitations, The ASU scientists, led by Sarah Stabenfeldt utilize a mouse model for their study to begin to study the root causes of TBI by identifying biomarkers — unique molecular fingerprints found with a given injury or disease.
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