NFL, GE Name Winners in Head Health Challenge

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Concussions can be deadlySix winners have been determined in the NFL and GE-sponsored Head Health Challenge contest to develop a means of testing for concussions in athletes and other individuals. These winners, chosen from an initial pool of 400 submissions from 27 countries, will each be awarded $500,000 to further refine and pursue their research and development. This money is in addition to the $300,000 the 16 semi-finalists received after the first round.

Three of the winners from Banyan Biomarkers of San Diego; the University of Montana; and Quanterix of Lexington, Massachusetts focused on finding concussion biomarkers in the blood. The other three—BrainScope Company of Maryland, Medical College of Wisconsin, and the University of California—used imaging tools to better analyze and understand the nature of concussions and the damage they cause.

Under these two categories, there are a variety of approaches, despite the overall similarities. Quanterix, for example, has developed a refrigerator-sized device called the Simoa test. The device releases “microbeads” to detect the presence of a protein that is produced following traumatic brain injuries. It is hoped that the Simoa test can be made more portable to allow for in-the-stadium diagnoses.

On the imaging end, the University of California is working on a statistical means of deep-brain scanning to better detect more subtle-but-significant changes that occur after mild concussions.

Head Health Challenge I is part of the Head Health Initiative, a four-year, $60.0-million collaboration between General Electric and the National Football League to improve the diagnoses and treatment of concussions.

Sources for Today’s Article:
Fine, L., “League and GE Announce Prize-winning Concussion Research,” GMA News Online web site, July 24, 2015; http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/527558/sports/othersports/nfl-league-and-ge-announce-prize-winning-concussion-research.
Kalter, L., “Concussion Detector Funds Go to Local Co.,” Boston Herald web site; http://www.bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_coverage/2015/07/concussion_detector_funds_go_to_local_co, last accessed July 24, 2015.
“NFL, GE Announce Six Final Winners of Head Health Challenge,” NFLevolution.com, July 23, 2015; http://www.nflevolution.com/article/nfl,-ge-announce-six-final-winners-of-head-health-challenge-i?ref=0ap3000000503200.

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