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Maybe Screen for It

Researchers have developed an assay that may some day be able to screen military personnel to identify those who might benefit from treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, Scientific American reports.

It notes that people who have served in the military have higher lifetime rates of developing PTSD, but also can be wary of reporting symptoms or concerns. But researchers led by New York Langone Medical School's Charles Marmar have uncovered biomarkers that could indicate PTSD. As they report in Molecular Psychiatry, Marmar and his colleagues used a multi-omic approach to uncover nearly 350 candidate biomarkers for PTSD within a cohort of 83 individuals with warzone-related PTSD and 82 warzone-exposed control individuals. The researchers whittled this set of biomarkers down to 28, which they then validated in an independent cohort of 26 cases and 26 controls.

These biomarkers — which include DNA methylation marks, heart rate, and certain circulating microRNAs, among others — had high accuracy, sensitivity, and specificity, the researchers report. "The identification and validation of this diverse diagnostic panel represents a powerful and novel approach to improve accuracy and reduce bias in diagnosing combat-related PTSD," they write in their paper.