Could a blood test for stroke become a reality?

Researchers have taken a key step toward developing a blood test that can detect when patients are experiencing stroke, sharing their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Such a blood test is likely still years away, but the study’s authors did identify biomarkers that, when present in a blood sample, appear to suggest damaged brain tissue. This update, the team wrote, could help make the development of a blood test a reality—and make it easier for clinicians to diagnose stroke patients without the use of medical imaging.

“If we had a blood test to tell us right away if someone is having a stroke, that could make a huge difference in patient care,” lead author Grant O’Connell, PhD, an assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, said in a statement.

O’Connell et al. designed a new algorithm that was able to explore data from nearly 12,000 tissue samples. The algorithm uncovered dozens of potential new biomarkers, though each one still needs to be carefully studied and validated.

“This could open up the door to a whole new wave of biomarker research, and that could lead to clinically useful tests (if we can) validate the findings,” O’Connell added.  

The authors also noted that “many frequently cited previously proposed blood biomarkers exhibit expression profiles which could limit their diagnostic efficacy.”  

Click here to read the full analysis.