Study of ASU football team produces largest known dataset for concussion diagnostics

March 17, 2017
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Following a three-year study of the Arizona State University football program, researchers at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) have created the largest dataset to date of extracellular small RNAs, which are potential biomarkers for diagnosing medical conditions, including concussions.

Details of the dataset were published today in Scientific Reports, an online open-access journal of the Nature Publishing Group.

The study amassed a collection of biomarkers from the ASU student-athletes' biofluids: blood, urine and saliva. A portion of that information will be used with data from helmet sensors that recorded the number, intensity and direction of head impacts during games and practices from the 2013-16 football teams. TGen researchers are using that combined data to potentially develop new diagnostic and therapeutic tools.

"Large datasets—examining different biofluids, isolation methods, detection platforms and analysis tools—are important to further our understanding of the extent and types of extracellular materials present when someone is injured or develops disease," said Dr. Kendall Van Keuren-Jensen, TGen Associate Professor of Neurogenomics and Co-Director of TGen's Center for Noninvasive Diagnostics, and one of the study's senior authors.

"Concussion safety, protocol and diagnostics are key components of Sun Devil Athletics' student-athlete welfare program," said Ray Anderson, ASU Vice President for University Athletics. "Our partnership with TGen and the research conducted with these biomarkers will ideally provide doctors, trainers and administrators with a mechanism to proactively safeguard the health of our student-athletes. We are proud and excited to be a part of this groundbreaking study that will significantly expand research in this important area of scientific discovery."

Because the data is being published in an open access journal, they are available to aid other researchers studying how to develop tests for the detection and extent of injuries involving everything from automobile accidents to battlefield explosions.

Sensors in the ASU student-athlete football helmets were wirelessly connected to a field-level computer as part of the Sideline Response System—a head impact monitoring and research tool developed and deployed by Riddell, a leading provider of helmets to the NFL and major college football teams.

"Riddell is pleased to be engaged with TGen on its important research as it has great potential to help the scientific community worldwide in the development of new breakthroughs, particularly in the area of brain health," said Dan Arment, President and Chief Executive Officer of Riddell, the industry leader in football helmet technology and innovation.

TGen researchers used advanced genomic sequencing to identify the biomarkers of extracellular RNA (exRNA), strands of genetic material that are released from cells, and which can be detected in biofluids. TGen sequenced, or spelled out, the chemical letters that make up these biomarkers from among 183 blood samples, 204 urine samples and 46 saliva samples derived from among 55 consenting student-athletes, ages 18-25.

"The small RNA profile of each biofluid is distinct," the study said. "These data significantly contribute to the current number of sequenced exRNA samples from young healthy individuals."

By identifying biofluids associated with healthy individuals, researchers hope to use these as standards for assessing disease and injury: "Establishing a baseline for individuals when they are healthy may provide the most meaningful comparisons when exploring early indicators of disease, severity or outcome," the study said.

"These data will help inform us about how best to develop additional tools to enrich and capture specific types of information," according to the paper, titled: "Total Extracellular Small RNA Profiles from Plasma, Saliva, and Urine of Healthy Subjects."

"We have tried to provide the most comprehensive profile of the small RNA species detected in our samples," said Dr. Matt Huentelman, TGen Professor of Neurogenomics, and one of the study's lead authors. "This information may prove to be essential as the field moves toward using RNA expression changes for the detection of health, disease and injury."

Explore further: Finding the needle in a genomic haystack

More information: Ashish Yeri et al, Total Extracellular Small RNA Profiles from Plasma, Saliva, and Urine of Healthy Subjects, Scientific Reports (2017). DOI: 10.1038/srep44061

Related Stories

Finding the needle in a genomic haystack

February 3, 2017
Researchers at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) have identified a genomic mutation that causes physical abnormalities and developmental delays in children.

TGen method isolates biospecimens for treatment of kidney disease

July 11, 2012
Researchers at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) have developed a method of isolating biospecimens that could lead to a less costly, less invasive and more accurate way of diagnosing chronic kidney disease, ...

New TGen test uses the unique genetics of women to uncover neurologic disorders

December 12, 2014
Using a basic genetic difference between men and women, the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) has uncovered a way to track down the source of a neurological disorder in a young girl.

Team finds new avenues of precision medicine for treating cancer

May 10, 2016
An international team of scientists, including those at the Translational Genomic Research Institute (TGen), have discovered new avenues of potential treatments for a rare and deadly cancer known as Adrenocortical Carcinoma, ...

TGen professor discusses benefits of whole genome sequencing in study of multiple myeloma

April 3, 2013
The scientific benefits of whole genome sequencing at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) will be presented at the 14th International Myeloma Workshop, April 3-7 at the Kyoto International Conference Center.

Recommended for you

Poor sleep could lead to heavier drinking in young adults, study finds

December 8, 2017
A shortened night of sleep may increase young adults' risk of heavier drinking, according to a new Yale study that assessed reciprocal variations in sleep and drinking over time in young adults.

Researchers say nutritional labeling for sodium doesn't work

December 8, 2017
Potato chips, frozen pizza, a fast food hamburger-these foods are popular in the American diet and saturated with sodium. Though eating too much can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease, 90 percent of Americans eat ...

Observation care may save more than thought

December 8, 2017
In the world of health care spending policy, it usually works that as Medicare goes so goes private insurance on matters of managing the cost and quality of care.

Screen time before bed linked with less sleep, higher BMIs in kids

December 7, 2017
It may be tempting to let your kids stay up late playing games on their smartphones, but using digital devices before bed may contribute to sleep and nutrition problems in children, according to Penn State College of Medicine ...

Mindful yoga can reduce risky behaviors in troubled youth, says research

December 7, 2017
For some young people, dealing with life stressors like exposure to violence and family disruption often means turning to negative, risky behaviors—yet little is known about what can intervene to stop this cycle.

Teen girls 'bombarded and confused' by sexting requests: study

December 7, 2017
Adolescent women feel intense pressure to send sexual images to men, but they lack the tools to cope with their concerns and the potential consequences, according to new Northwestern University research published Wednesday, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.