Fast-Tracking Precision Diagnostics and Tailored Therapeutics for PTSD

Fast-Tracking Precision Diagnostics and Tailored Therapeutics for PTSD

PTSD statisticPost-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a significant public health burden. Millions of Americans affected by PTSD are still waiting for solutions:

  • 8.6 million adults have PTSD in a given year in the United States
  • Women are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD
  • Nearly 300,000 Veterans who have returned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering from PTSD
  • People who suffer from PTSD may be more likely to attempt suicide
What is PTSD?

PTSD is a clinically diagnosed neuropsychiatric condition that occurs in about 20% of all individuals who experience or witness trauma.

PTSD statistic

Following a traumatic event, most people will experience symptoms such as having upsetting memories, feeling on edge, or having trouble sleeping. These short-term symptoms are known as post-traumatic stress (PTS) and typically occur within the first three months following the trauma. When the symptoms of PTS persist for longer than a few months, an individual may have PTSD.

Symptoms of PTSD

Individuals commonly report hyper-arousal, flashbacks, panic attacks, depression, trouble concentrating, trouble sleeping, and feelings of guilt, shame, or fear.

How is PTSD diagnosed?

Currently, the diagnosis of PTSD is based on structured interviews and questionnaires that are administered by a clinician. No definitive diagnostic tests have been developed for PTSD.


There have been no new FDA-approved therapeutics for PTSD in 18 years.

Quote from Karestan Koenen, PhD

We’re working to fix this problem through robust and rigorous research that will help us better understand the biological underpinnings of PTSD.

The challenge is that PTSD is a complex condition with different symptoms in different people. We need to gain a better understanding of the brain circuits and molecular pathways causing symptoms so that we can better diagnose individuals and develop targeted and more effective treatments.

Although psychotherapeutic (‘talk therapy”) and pharmacological interventions can significantly reduce PTSD symptoms, there remains considerable room for improvement. Only two pharmacological therapeutics, sertraline and paroxetine, have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for PTSD. Response to these selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors rarely exceeds 60%, and only 20% to 30% of patients achieve complete remission of symptoms.

Precision Solutions

CVB is driving progress to advance precision solutions for PTSD through a variety of programs.

To improve the quality of life of people suffering from PTSD, we’re working to identify the biological mechanisms underlying the condition. Objective diagnostic tools would allow clinicians to predict the likelihood that a given patient would respond to a given therapeutic, enabling personalized medicine for people living with PTSD.

Our research has shown that genetics influence a person’s risk of developing PTSD after trauma

A landmark study with the Broad Institute has so far discovered six genetic markers for PTSD risk. These results represent an important step in a global initiative to accelerate the discovery of genetic markers that could help guide the development of treatments and diagnostics for people living with PTSD. Learn more about the Global PTSD Genetics Consortium.

Advancing personalized medicine for PTSD

Together with our partners, we measured electrical activity in the brain to identify specific brain activity patterns – or neural signatures – in PTSD, which provided objective evidence for predicting a patient’s response to treatment. This neural signature, or brain biomarker, will be the first of its kind for PTSD and may help accelerate effective treatments. Learn more about the Biomarker Establishment for Superior Treatment (BEST) PTSD study.

The Power of Genetics in Predicting & Treating PTSD: In this webinar, learn about groundbreaking discoveries in research and what they mean for individuals with PTSD.

Improving sleep for those living with PTSD

Sleep disruptions such as nightmares, insomnia, and apnea can be the most burdensome aspects of living with PTSD. Our SleepWell program is advancing a precision medicine approach to improving sleep after brain trauma. SleepWell’s focus on quantifying sleep data can improve clinicians’ ability to tailor personalized treatments for patients. Learn more about our SleepWell program.

PTSD and sleep statistic

Sign Up for Our Newsletter: Get the Latest Updates in PTSD Research

PTSD patient quote

Who We Are

Cohen Veterans Bioscience is a non-profit 501(c)(3) biomedical research and technology organization dedicated to advancing brain health by fast-tracking precision diagnostics and tailored therapeutics.

Our Vision

To make brain disorders predictable, treatable, and curable.

Our Impact

$100+ Million invested in research programs that will have the most impact on patients.

100% of unrestricted donations to Cohen Veterans Bioscience go toward our research to fast-track diagnostics and treatments for brain disorders.