Medicortex Finland Oy, a start-up biotechnology company focused on the diagnosis and treatment of neurodegenerative conditions has recently launched a funding round and is seeking investors to help fund research and development of a therapeutic drug and companion diagnostic test for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The company aims to identify a TBI biomarker and, on this basis, develop a diagnostic test for the evaluation of TBI presence and severity. The Company’s other mission is to develop a drug that would limit the long-term effects of TBI, including post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
Numerous studies show that even one mild TBI, also called concussions, can lead to long-term neurodegeneration, which can manifest as sleep disturbance, problems with concentration, nausea, and seizures. When left untreated, these symptoms can develop into more severe neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s diseases. As a result of repeated head trauma, many football players, boxers, and ice hockey players suffer from impaired memory and early-onset dementia.
The insidious and devastating consequences of TBI result from the cascade of physiological events that follow the trauma. In the hours, days, and weeks after TBI, the increased permeability of the neuronal membrane allows for an excessive influx of metal ions and circulating free radicals into the brain. These cause a series of protein degradation cascades and oxidation, leading to widespread molecular damage and neuronal cell death. In short, the damage expands and permanent neurodegeneration takes place if TBI is left untreated. Unfortunately, no drug or proper diagnostic test exist for TBI sufferers.
The people most likely to suffer from TBI include, among others, soldiers, athletes and sports professionals. Certainly, the world remembers Michael Schumacher, race car driver and Formula One winner, who suffered a ski accident and fought a serious TBI. No matter how much attention these stories receive, the real story of sports-related TBI lies in the sheer magnitude of the problem. The total annual costs of TBI in Europe exceed €100 billion and the costs show no decrease because the incidence of TBI is increasing steeply. The incidence rate is estimated to be 262 per 100,000 annually, but the true incidence might be even higher because of the lack of proper TBI diagnostics.
Medicortex Finland is working towards the identification of a TBI biomarker and incorporating it into a quick and reliable diagnostic kit that can be easily used by the first responders and healthcare professionals, but also by people with no medical profession. The ideal kit will not only diagnose the presence of TBI, but it will also quantify the severity of injury so that the recovery can be monitored. In the future, the kit will advance the TBI drug development that will again alleviate or even arrest the long-term neurodegeneration after TBI. The company is currently in the human proof-of-concept stage, is seeking an investment to support the fast evaluation of a TBI biomarker from human samples.