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Mental Health, Neuroscience, Research

U.S. consortium launches effort to identify PTSD biomarkers to improve diagnosis and treatment

Last January, over 100 medical schools, including Stanford, partnered with First Lady Michelle Obama’s Joining Forces initiative and pledged to boost training and research for the treatment of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Now efforts to improve diagnosis and treatment of the mental health condition are getting another boost.

A consortium of U.S. researchers is launching an initiative that will draw on genetic testing, brain imaging, physiological measurements and other data to pinpoint patterns that may prove useful in diagnosing PTDS and advancing treatments. The project is being led by Draper Laboratories, a research and development nonprofit in Cambridge, Mass. Susan Young, a former science-writing intern for the School of Medicine’s communication office writes in Technology Review:

The consortium plans to study both civilians and military personnel who have recently been in automobile accidents (some 9 percent of American accident survivors develop PTSD, according to the National Center for PTSD).


“The goal is to develop quantitative biomarkers, such as from a blood test, urine analysis, or fMRI, that can be used to determine objectively if someone has PTSD,” says Len Polizzotto, Draper’s vice president in charge of the program. The markers could also help reveal whether treatment is working, he says.

Consortium member Jennifer Vasterling, a clinical investigator and chief of psychology at the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, says that long-term study could one day guide doctors in preventing symptoms from developing. “If you can look at biological features, psychological features, social features, and see what differentiates those who become symptomatic from those who don’t, it gives you some idea where to go with preventative interventions,” she says.

Previously: Is there a genetic link between memory and PTSD risk?, As soldiers return home, demand for psychologists with military experience grows and Searching for better PTSD treatments
Photo by Andrew Spratley

One Response to “ U.S. consortium launches effort to identify PTSD biomarkers to improve diagnosis and treatment ”

  1. Daniel Haszard Says:

    Good to go Bravo! I salute non-drug therapy as first choice of treatment.
    PTSD treatment for Veterans found ineffective.

    Eli Lilly made $67 billion on the Zyprexa franchise.Lilly was fined $1.4 billion for Zyprexa fraud!
    The atypical antipsychotics (Zyprexa,Risperdal,Seroquel) are like a ‘synthetic’ Thorazine,only they cost ten times more than the old fashioned typical antipsychotics.
    These newer generation drugs still pack their list of side effects like diabetes for the user.All these drugs work as so called ‘major tranquilizers’.This can be a contradiction with PTSD suffers as we are hyper vigilant and feel uncomfortable with a drug that puts you to sleep and makes you sluggish.
    That’s why drugs like Zyprexa don’t work for PTSD survivors like myself.

    -Daniel Haszard FMI
    *Tell the truth don’t be afraid*


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