Traumatic Brain Injury

Gaia aims to develop a novel rapid, non-invasive, point-of-care diagnostic tool for monitoring patients with traumatic brain injury.


Traumatic Brain Injury Study


Facing a Public Health Issue

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the leading cause of mortality in persons under 45 years old, and a leading cause of disability in all age groups. In civilians, TBI is caused by car crashes, falls, sports, assaults and it is emerging as a potential threat in civilian terrorism. In the military, blast TBI caused by improvised explosive devices is one of the most serious wounds currently suffered by U.S. combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even a mild TBI (mTBI, a concussion) can result in a severe neurocognitive impairment called post-concussional disorder (PCD). PCD develops in about 20% of mTBI patients within 3 to 12 months after the injury. PCD involves persistent memory loss, headaches, balance problems, hearing problems, lack of self-control, mood changes, ringing in the ears, problems sleeping and cognitive deficits. These problems impair employment, disrupt stable social relationships can isolate the individual to a narrow world of disability and reduced opportunity. Soldiers or athletes with mTBI injuries typically return to the field. This can lead to cumulative concussions that increase the risk of PCD. In soldiers, PCD severely interferes not only with performance in the field but also with the ability to live a normal life after deployment. Early diagnosis and treatment of mTBI injuries is critical to minimize physical and mental disability, co-morbidity, substance abuse and suicidal behavior. The main challenge in predicting PCD risk is the lack of a rapid test that could be used for routine monitoring of mTBI patients in point-of-care settings (POC). Currently, PCD diagnostics is based on neuropsychological tests. These tests are costly, time-consuming and do not discriminate between patients who will have spontaneous symptom resolution from those who will have persistent complaints.


The Technology

Molecular TBI Test

Responding to this need, our goal is to develop a rapid oral test suitable for monitoring mTBI patients in POC. The test will be based on Stress Response Profiling (SRP) biomarkers in saliva, a new patent pending technology developed by Gaia Medical. Currently we are performing a clinical study in collaboration with the Traumatic Brain Research Center at Pittsburgh University. The study will deliver a validated panel of biomarkers for detecting PCD risk. A commercial test will be developed in 3 to 5 years. The new test will be a simple hand-held device similar to the home pregnancy test and will utilize lateral-flow immunoassay technology. The test will be pain-free, affordable, and suitable for field use. Test results will indicate risk of PCD. This will be useful for deciding whether a TBI patient should start a treatment, or modify the current treatment because it is not working well. The proposed test has potential to significantly accelerate the delivery of treatment for mTBI by enabling rapid simple forecasting of PCD risk and individualized therapeutic monitoring.

Lateral Flow Device

Model of device test material


Gaia Medical Institute ™ Contributes to the SPIE Conference


Gaia CEO Dr. Sarka Southern is a Senior Member of SPIE and serves as the Conference Chair at the annual SPIE Sensing Technologies and Applications Symposium since 2007. See the full 2014 Conference Program here.

For 2015 Conference Call for Papers click here.

SPIE Website.

Updated: March 22, 2017

Current News:

Gaia Continues US Army Clinical Studies:


Gaia continues clinical studies of the Hydration Status Monitor for the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command. Please visit Military Operational Medicine Research Program.

Gaia Joins Fight Against Ebola

Ebola Virus

Gaia Medical Institute ™ has joined the National Institutes of Health in the fight against Ebola. The objective is to develop a NEXT GEN screening test for early detection of Ebola and other emerging diseases.

Dr. Sarka Southern Nominated for Athena San Diego's Pinnacle Award in Life Sciences

Ebola Virus

Dr. Sarka Southern was nominated for the Athena San Diego Pinnacle Award in Life Sciences. This honor recognized extraordinary individuals, companies/organizations and educators who "personify Athena San Diego's mission of fostering the personal and professional growth of women through mentoring, education, recognition, and leadership training." Awards were presented to those who have played an exemplary role in the development and advancement of women within their organization or the San Diego community. For more information visit: Athena Pinnacle Awards

Updated: March 22, 2017

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Updated: March 22, 2017


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