Study seeks biomarkers for invisible war scars.
Over the past decade, about half a million veterans have received diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury. Though PTSD is hardly new, diagnoses still largely rely on self-reported symptoms. And while severe brain injuries are often clearly diagnosable, finding evidence of mild T.B.I.’s, particularly older ones, can be all but impossible.
Now, in one of the largest studies of its kind, a team of researchers based out of New York University’s medical school have begun a five-year study to find biological signals, known as biomarkers, that could provide reliable, objective evidence of those so-called invisible injuries of war.
Biomarkers are physiological road signs that can tell doctors whether a person has a disease or injury, or is likely to contract a particular ailment. Tissue damaged by a heart attack releases chemicals into the blood that can be detected. Abnormal levels of the proteins amyloid and tau, as well as shrinkage of certain areas of the brain, are considered markers of Alzheimer’s disease.