Cohen Veterans Bioscience and the Broad Institute’s Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research with PTSD researchers from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium Announce Initial Findings from Largest Study of Genetic Markers for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Cohen Veterans Bioscience and the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research today marked an important milestone towards the discovery of the first population genome-wide significant markers of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) risk.

Topline results of a landmark global collaboration of over 80,000 biosamples identified three possible loci or chromosomal points, involved in PTSD risk, with some loci being implicated in the genetics of other psychiatric disorders. These data showing the first known genetic markers for PTSD risk were presented at the Society of Biological Psychiatry annual conference in San Diego.

“To achieve this seminal milestone, we needed team-science to reach a study size large enough to give us robust genetic results,” says Caroline Nievergelt, PhD, UCSD, lead statistician for the analysis. Currently there are no proven genetic markers for PTSD. These results are an important step forward in a global initiative to accelerate the discovery of genetic markers that could help guide the treatment of people living with PTSD. These data reflect an innovative partnership teaming the resources and management of Cohen Veterans Bioscience with extensive genetics expertise and genotyping provided by the Broad Institute’s Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research. The initiative was made possible thanks to the contribution of over 50 datasets with more than 80,000 samples from the Psychiatric Genetic Consortium (PGC) PTSD working group and statistical analysis support from researchers at the University of California San Diego, Stanford University, and Duke University.

“We need a drug discovery revolution in PTSD. Today, the only FDA-approved drugs for treating PTSD are SSRIs, and they are only fully effective for less than a third of patients. Unbiased genetics approaches will provide the basis for new, rational therapeutics and may eventually help us better match treatments to patients,” said Karestan Koenen, Principal Investigator for the Stanley Center and Professor at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health.

Post-traumatic stress is the most commonly occurring and seriously impairing disorder that occurs after exposure to traumatic events, such as combat, sexual assault, and natural disaster. Approximately 8 million American adults’sboth civilian and military populations have been diagnosed with PTSD. Trauma-related disorders are also a major contributor to risk for suicide a devastating outcome affecting as many as 20 veterans per day.

“Solving the public health problem of PTSD is a global effort,” said Magali Haas, MD, PhD, CEO & President, Cohen Veterans Bioscience. “By coming together and sharing data and expertise, we can make real progress that will help those with PTSD who have suffered for far too long.”

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