By Dr. Victoria Risbrough

Image from “The Exosome Explosion”, The New Scientist

More than 360,000 armed service members sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) during combat and training between 2000 and 2016. Veterans with TBI often require healthcare for years after the initial injury. Therefore, having a way to aid in the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of TBI is very important. There are blood tests that can detect whether TBI has occurred, but these tests cannot provide details about TBI symptoms. CESAMH Associate Director of Neuroscience, Dr. Victoria Risbrough, and her collaborator Dr. Robert Rissman were awarded a $1.4 million VA Merit Grant to investigate new biomarkers from blood samples that may provide helpful information about TBI symptoms. They will study “exosomes,” which are vesicles (pouches containing proteins and genetic material, such as RNA) that are released from most types of cells, including brain cells. Exosomes can be used to understand the health of brain cells. Exosomes are readily detectable in blood and are promising tools for aiding diagnosis of disorders associated with nerve cell damage. Results of this study may help improve the detection and treatment for deployment-related TBI.