Farah Palmer Cup teams to participate in saliva concussion diagnosis project

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All 13 teams will participate in a study aimed at improving concussion diagnosis among women’s rugby players.

Medical staff from each team will collect saliva samples from players during baseline testing sessions with the use of Marker’s saliva biomarker concussion technology.

If during the season a player is suspected of sustaining a concussion, they will then provide further saliva specimens as part of the competition’s head injury assessment processes (HIA 1, HIA 2, HIA 3). 

Currently, Marker’s CE marked concussion test is the only approved biological concussion diagnostic in the world. The test analyses non-coding RNA biomarkers in the saliva for appropriate concussion diagnosis, assessment and management, and safe graduated return to play protocols.

NZR Medical Manager Karen Rasmussen said the collaboration is the first of its kind outside of elite level women’s rugby (RWC 21 and 2023 TikTok Women’s 6 Nations) that will include research at this level of the women’s game.

“We’re delighted to partner with World Rugby and Marker as a leader in the field of concussion diagnosis as we work to improve player safety at all levels of the game,” Rasmussen said. 

Marker Chairman David Cohen said a key objective of the ongoing initiatives is to provide a diagnostic tool to all individuals of all ages who are potentially concussed.

“It is our intent that Marker’s saliva test should be made available within the community at any level of rugby. The collaboration with NZR, World Rugby and the University of Otago is something we are extremely proud to be a part of,” Cohen said.

World Rugby Concussion Research Coordinator Danielle Salmon said the collaboration aligns with their six-point action plan to advance player welfare that was announced earlier in July.

“World Rugby are delighted to be able to support this collaboration between NZR and Marker, as we collectively look to extend understanding and insight into concussion among female rugby players at all levels of the game,” Salmon said.

As concussion research has progressed, evidence is emerging that female athletes may suffer a higher rate of concussion with a wider range of more severe and longer-lasting symptoms compared to their male counterparts.

The FPC research combined with other female concussion studies from Marker are designed to provide the data needed for approval of an accurate saliva test for use across female players with the goal of enhancing player’s brain welfare.

Marker Diagnostics is a subsidiary of Swiss medical device developer Marker AG and specialises in developing diagnostic and prognostic devices using non-coding RNA.

Marker’s patented and CE marked MDx.100 Concussion/mTBI Diagnostic, a salivary diagnostic test, approved for mild traumatic brain injury in adult male athletes, is the only biological concussion diagnostic for concussion, a brain injury that has historically been challenging to diagnose.

Through the analysis of small non-coding RNA biomarkers in saliva, the test is an important component in identifying concussions and managing safe return to play in sport and the community.

The company is also an active collaborator and lead developer of diagnostic and prognostic tools for other currently unmet medical needs.