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IU researchers say they’ve developed blood test to diagnose, treat PTSD

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.—Researchers at the IU School of Medicine believe they’ve developed a blood test that can help accurately diagnose Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“Precision medicine is not only the future; precision medicine is the present,” Dr. Alexander Niculescu said.

Niculescu and his research team developed the test after a 10-year long study, which followed 250 veterans over the course of 600 doctor visits. Through the study, Niculescu says his team was able to identify a specific set of biomarkers in the blood of those with PTSD. The say the identification of the biomarkers can objectively help diagnose PTSD and determine the severity of their stress. Niculescu says the test can also be used to predict future hospitalization due to the condition.

“They’ve been exposed to a lot, and they deserve the best care, and they deserve better ways of catching this earlier, treating it and having better quality of life,” he said.

Niculescu says the breakthrough could be a game-changer for those dealing with the condition, leading to earlier diagnosis and intervention.

“It’s treatable even now very well, it’ll be even more treatable in the future,” he said.

Erich Orrick, a 21-year army vet who deals with PTSD, says beyond early detection, the test could help to remove the stigma surrounding PTSD, which can often prevent those from seeking help.

“If you see yourself having a mental issue rather than a medical condition, a weakness, that your mind is weaker than the next guy, your less prone to seek help for it,” he said.

Orrick added that earlier detection could also lead to better outcomes for veterans who suffer from the condition.

"We’re still at 22 veterans everyday committing suicide. If we save one life a day, that’s somebody’s brother, somebody’s mother, so it’s well worth the research and the money that went into finding this other tool that the docs have to help people,” he said.

Niculescu says the goal is to also use the test for civilians, as well as veterans. He says it may be a few years until the test is approved for commercial use.

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