Saliva May Help Diagnose PTSD in Veterans

A recent study finds that former soldiers with post traumatic stress disorders have a certain set of bacteria in their saliva, a distinct signature that is believed to be the first biological marker for PTSD.

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As a bioinformatician and young veteran, Guy Shapira welcomed the opportunity to help with conducting a study to determine if saliva can reveal if war veterans have post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

The research team, which drew mostly from Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and Sagol School of Neuroscience, collected saliva samples from approximately 200 veterans who suffered psychological trauma stemming from the years they spent fighting in the First Lebanon War in 1982. The researchers also characterized the participants’ psychological, social and medical conditions, including a detailed analysis of their microbiomes.

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Christopher Johnston
Christopher Johnston has published more than 3,500 articles in publications including American Theatre, Christian Science Monitor, History Magazine, and Scientific American. His book, Shattering Silences: Strategies to Prevent Sexual Assault, Heal Survivors, and Bring Assailants to Justice (Skyhorse) was published in May 2018. He is a member of the Board of the American Society of Journalists and Authors.
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A new way to help kids with ADHD: Treat adult ADHD

Adults who have ADHD can benefit from treatment, and some researchers think their kids' ADHD symptoms may get better as a result.

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When a child is diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), it can often be a surprise to the parents that one of them has ADHD as well. They may have experienced some of the symptoms but never had the condition diagnosed.

Physicians, however, are usually less surprised because they know that ADHD is a very heritable disorder. According to a 2015 study, if a parent has ADHD, the child has up to a 57 percent chance of having it, and the child’s risk is 32 percent if their sibling has it.

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Christopher Johnston
Christopher Johnston has published more than 3,500 articles in publications including American Theatre, Christian Science Monitor, History Magazine, and Scientific American. His book, Shattering Silences: Strategies to Prevent Sexual Assault, Heal Survivors, and Bring Assailants to Justice (Skyhorse) was published in May 2018. He is a member of the Board of the American Society of Journalists and Authors.
New gene therapy helps patients with rare disease. One mother wouldn't have it any other way.

A biotech in Cambridge, Mass., is targeting a rare disease called cystinosis with gene therapy. It's been effective for five patients in a clinical trial that's still underway.

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Three years ago, Jordan Janz of Consort, Alberta, knew his gene therapy treatment for cystinosis was working when his hair started to darken. Pigmentation or melanin production is just one part of the body damaged by cystinosis.

“When you have cystinosis, you’re either a redhead or a blonde, and you are very pale,” attests Janz, 23, who was diagnosed with the disease just eight months after he was born. “After I got my new stem cells, my hair came back dark, dirty blonde, then it lightened a little bit, but before it was white blonde, almost bleach blonde.”

According to Cystinosis United, about 500 to 600 people have the rare genetic disease in the U.S.; an estimated 20 new cases are diagnosed each year.

Located in Cambridge, Mass., AVROBIO is a gene therapy company that targets cystinosis and other lysosomal storage disorders, in which toxic materials build up in the cells. Janz is one of five patients in AVROBIO’s ongoing Phase 1/2 clinical trial of a gene therapy for cystinosis called AVR-RD-04.

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Christopher Johnston
Christopher Johnston has published more than 3,500 articles in publications including American Theatre, Christian Science Monitor, History Magazine, and Scientific American. His book, Shattering Silences: Strategies to Prevent Sexual Assault, Heal Survivors, and Bring Assailants to Justice (Skyhorse) was published in May 2018. He is a member of the Board of the American Society of Journalists and Authors.