University of Minnesota researchers find way to detect post-traumatic stress disorder

The University of Minnesota says its scientists may have identified an area of the brain that indicates a patient suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Using a relatively new imaging technique called magnetoencephalography (MEG), researchers at the medical school and the Minneapolis Veteran Affairs Medical Center detected hyper electrical activity in the right side of the brain of PTSD patients who experienced involuntary flashbacks commonly associated with the disorder.

By confirming PTSD with the MEG scans, doctors can prescribe better treatments for patients, the school said. Scientists also move one step closer to identifying a biomarker, or genetic clue, to PTSD that allows them to measure the progress of the disease or the effects of treatment.

People often equate PTSD with military veterans who fought in wars, but the disease can appear in anyone who suffers severe psychological trauma. Symptoms include flashbacks, anger, anxiety and recurring nightmares.

Some people consider MEG technology superior to CT and MRI scans because MEG can measure the brain’s electrical activity in real time.

Orasi Medical Inc., a university-bred startup that’s developing software to crunch MEG data, says it owns the largest commercial database of MEG scans and is the only provider of MEG biomarkers.

In a previous interview, Orasi CEO Shawn Lyndon expressed interest in using MEG scans to diagnose PTSD.

Today, the company is primarily focused on helping drug firms determine earlier if their therapies are working by comparing the MEG scans of patients with neurological diseases to its image database of people with normal brain activity.

Orasi recently inked licensing deals with Swiss pharma giant Novartis AG and Danish drugmaker H. Lundbeck A/S.

Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/02/2010 - 10:08 am.

    What proportion of total variance do these tests account for?
    That’s the difference between clinical significance and theoretical significance.
    And of course the track record of prepublication PR is not great.

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