CirculoGene has received a contract to develop liquid biopsy markers for the rapid and accurate assessment of traumatic brain injury (TBI) as part of a US Department of Defense (DoD) research project.

The subcontract was awarded by The Geneva Foundation, which secured a $1.5m DoD grant to support research applying precision medicine concepts to trauma care.

The grant was made available under the Defense Medical Research and Development Program (DMRDP) Precision Trauma Care Research Award (PTCRA).

Geneva will use CirculoGene’s liquid biopsy to ID and quantify organ-specific injury markers in order to provide improved treatment for injured military and civilian personnel.

CirculoGene CEO Mike Mullen said: “As one of the leading molecular diagnostics laboratories in the world, we are proud to have been selected as a partner for this project.

“This award recognises our proprietary, in situ, cell-free DNA (cfDNA) quantification process, which will be key in helping researchers identify and measure circulating markers of TBI and other battlefield trauma.”

These markers will subsequently facilitate the development of therapeutic interventions.

The majority of combat-related deaths are caused by TBI either alone or in combination with polytrauma and lung injury. Data shows more than 80% of US service members wounded in recent combats were affected by some form of TBI complicated with trauma to the chest and bleeding.

The Geneva Foundation project principal investigator Andriy Batchinsky said: “There are currently no viable treatment options for these patients due primarily to the severity of injury.

“As one of the leading molecular diagnostics laboratories in the world, we are proud to have been selected as a partner for this project.”

“Therefore, specific and accurate injury severity markers and diagnostic tools must be identified before effective therapeutic interventions are developed.”

As part of the research, animal models with combat-relevant trauma will be used to identify special injury severity markers, including cfDNA in the blood. This approach will pave the way for effective intervention.

The DoD grant also seeks to establish and analyse specific cfDNA organ damage signatures to enable early battlefield patient triage and effective treatment.

Signatures will be analysed using CirculoGene’s linear in situ amplification technology.

The research aims to improve diagnosis and provide targeted therapeutic intervention through the use of extracorporeal life support devices.