Innovation study determing that experimental blood test accurately screening for the psychiatric disorder. But the study describing for the first time a blood-based biomarker panel for diagnosis of warzone-related PTSD. An artificial intelligence tool which analyzing 28 physical and molecular measures, all but one from blood samples; confirming with 77% accuracy a diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in male combat veterans.
While work remains to further validate our panel, it holds tremendous promise as the first blood test that can screen for PTSD with a level of accuracy useful in the clinical setting. There are currently no FDA-approved blood tests, for instance, for depression or bipolar disorder. The new study embodies a longstanding goal in the field of psychiatry; to shift mental health toward standards like those used in cardiology or cancer, for instance, in which lab tests enable accurate diagnoses based on physical measures biomarkers instead of on self-reporting or interviews with inherent biases.
Experimental blood test
Those with PTSD experience strong, persistent distress when reminded of a triggering, traumatic event. According to a World Health Organization survey, more than 70% of adults worldwide have experienced a traumatic event at some point in their lives, although not all develop the condition. The researchers tested nearly one million features with current genomic and other molecular tests and narrowed them to 28 markers.
By measuring a large number of unbiased quantities, the team sought to determine which of them were associated with an accurate PTSD symptom diagnosis. Using a combination of statistical techniques, the study authors narrowed the best measures from a million to 343 to 77, and then finally to 28, with the final group outperforming the larger groups in prediction accuracy. Some of this winnowing was accomplished using machine learning, mathematical models trained with data to find patterns.
These molecular signatures will continue to be refining and adapting for commercialization. The current study did not seek to explain the disease mechanisms related to the final markers; but rather to blindly pick those that did the best job of diagnosing PTSD; the group of best-performing markers included the activity levels of certain genes, amounts of key proteins in the blood; levels of metabolites involved in energy processing, as well as levels of circulating microRNAs (miRNAs); snippets of genetic material known to alter gene activity and tied to heart diseases and features of PTSD.
The one indicator not measured by blood test was the heart rate variability. These results point toward many biochemical pathways that may guide the future design of new drugs; and support the theory that PTSD is a systemic disease that causes genetic and cellular changes well beyond the brain