Raleigh scientists team up to help treat military PTSD

WAKE COUNTY, North Carolina (WTVD) -- A new medical study is starting in Raleigh to help military service members dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The goal is to connect service members with PTSD with personalized medication using cutting edge technology.

For some battling depression or PTSD, the struggle can be made worse with years of trying out different medications that just don't seem to work.

If you're interested in learning more about participating in the trial study, you can call Carolina Partners at (877) 446-1551.

"There are 20 to 30 antidepressants for example, so there is no lack of medicines," said Dr. Sandeep Vaishnavi, Neuropsychiatrist at Carolina Partners. "The problem is, how do you objectively diagnose someone with a disorder, then how do you actually individualize treatment?"

Vaishnavi said this is a problem not just in psychiatry, but in all medical fields. That's why Carolina Partners is teaming up with Mako Medical Laboratories, also in Raleigh, for their new "SMART-MD" study.

The idea is to see if data from brain activity (as compared to a brainwave database) and info in DNA can point people to a better prescription.

The team does this by using a cap of electrodes to measure brainwaves at Carolina Partners. They get a DNA sample by having participants swab the inside of their mouth and the genetic data is mapped at Mako Medical lab.

Then MYnd Analytics, a California-based tech company, runs the data comparisons. They hope the combination of information will point patients to their best prescription option.

Folks working on the study at Mako hope the results will decrease the rate of veteran suicide.

"I deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 and when you come back there's just not really thorough testing," explained Adam Price, Army Captain and director of logistics at Mako Medical Laboratories. "With the science we have available, we can actually look at your genes and give you something that's specific to you."

The new method aims to connect veterans with the medicine they need before they're discouraged by the trial and error process.

"We are setting these guys up for success and I think it's time we do that, instead of setting them up to just keep going down the same road," Price said.

Here are details about the study from MYnd Analytics about the study:

Who's in the trial:

For SMART-MD trial, we're looking for people whose medications are not working. They should be 18 - 65-year-old active duty military, veterans, and military and veteran family members with a primary diagnosis of depression. They can have mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and/or post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well.

Previous trials:

The average effectiveness of depression medications is 30 percent. In the two previous trials of this technology, one at Stanford (2011) and one at Walter Reed (2016), doctors using the PEER Report achieved 2-3 times better outcomes than using standard care. At Walter Reed, patients in the PEER Group had 75 percent less suicidality than patients receiving standard care, which was very significant.

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