Research study aims to develop new PTSD treatment options

Jacksonville among more than 2 dozen sites where clinical trial is underway

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – At any given time, an estimated 8% Americans -- more than 24 million people -- are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The causes of PTSD are varied, and treatment options have been limited. But research underway to develop new treatment options is being studied in Jacksonville. 

Alexis Francis said finding her father dead from a heart attack, followed by an abusive relationship, led her down a dark, emotional road.

"It was bad," Francis said. "I wanted to drown myself out of my own thoughts."

Francis said she tried to mask the emotional pain with alcohol for years, but it was during a stay in rehab that she was diagnosed with PTSD.

"I would describe it as an unending nightmare," she said. 

The majority of people with PTSD suffer from insomnia, terrifying dreams and other sleep issues connected to their trauma. 

"They're having lingering effects of the trauma they experienced," said Dr. Olga Lapeyra, who is part of a clinical trial underway in Jacksonville and more than two dozen other sites called the Recovery Study. "So they may have flashbacks, they may have unwanted memories, anxiety, irritability associated with it."

Researchers are investigating the benefit of a medication called TNX-102 S-L. 

"It is a small, rapidly disintegrating tablet of cyclobenzaprine," Lapeyra said.

Lapeyra said the drug has already been safely prescribed for many years in the United States as a muscle relaxant. 

"In prior studies with PTSD, it was found that the subjects who did take TNX-102 S-L did have deep and restorative sleep," Lapeyra said.

Due to other health conditions, Francis could not qualify for the recovery study, but she hopes the findings may one day benefit her and so many others with PTSD. 

"I pray every single day just for peace," Francis said. 

Anyone between the ages of 18 to 65 who experienced trauma within the last nine years may be eligible for the study, which is currently in phase three -- the final stage of research needed for approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

There are several locations participating in this trial in Florida, including Jacksonville, Orlando and South Florida. 

For more information, visit RecoveryStudy.com.

About the Authors: