Aug 3, 2022 In an article featured in NEXTpittsburgh, an online publication, the Chuck Noll Foundation discusses their latest grant to fund a “easier” method to identify concussions. The Chuck Noll Foundation has recently received $350,000 in funding and created the Joseph C. Maroon Fund to focus on research that includes using biomarkers found in blood and saliva to detect brain injuries.
In the announcement of the new Fund, the article references a recent research from the British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM) in 2021 that involved 1,000-plus male rugby players that boosts the case for saliva-based testing to identify a possible concussion. Current evaluation of sport-related concussion is largely based on the reporting of symptoms. Biomarkers, like those reported in the BJSM article are not routinely used at present to identify concussion but may prove useful for corroborating the diagnosis.
In this study, the researchers tested salivary sncRNAs, as a new class of molecules, against a standard symptom-based tool used to diagnose concussion in professional rugby. They found 32 different sncRNAs molecules across three time points that were expressed in rugby players with a clinical diagnosis of concussion compared with those cleared of concussion after examination. They eventually narrowed it to 14 different types of sncRNAs biomarker molecules that accurately predicted (90 to 95% 0f the the time) a clinical diagnosis of concussion in professional rugby players.
“SncRNAs are stable molecules and straightforward to assess. In addition, the choice of saliva is a rapid, non-invasive fluid and may allow for a well-tolerated sideline and post-game collection system. With more research funding is needed to verify these results and made it widely available biomarker to help detect concussions, Dr. Maroon says; it could be “kind of like a pregnancy test — they would indicate brain disruption immediately.”