A blood test to screen for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): We are closer than you might think

A.L. Naclerio, T. Cunningham
TruGenomix Health Inc, dba Polaris Genomics, Virginia, United States

Keywords: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, Genomics, Screening, Diagnosis, Readiness

PTSD is a debilitating condition which affects Service Members and Veterans disproportionately more often. Current screening methods are subjective and rely heavily on questionnaires. Delay in treatment leads to maladaptive coping strategies, increased social dysfunction, and decreased medical readiness. The development of a simple blood test based on biological markers would revolutionize care with earlier diagnosis, decrease in stigma, and the development of targeted novel therapeutics. Using a case control design, we compared changes in RNA expression levels of over 1000 gene targets in patients with and without PTSD in search of a pattern of expression in a subset of genes that is predictive of PTSD. Patients had extensive evaluations by a trained psychiatrist as well as completing standardized self reporting tools for various mental health conditions on the same day their blood samples were drawn. Targeted RNA sequencing was carried out using the ADAPT Panel of 1003 genes involved in neuropsychiatric conditions and known related pathways. Machine learning/AI was used to develop a model for the identification of PTSD. We identified a pattern of gene expression in 21 genes that was more predictive of PTSD than the self reporting tools currently in use.