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EVANSTON, Ill. (WLS) — Paul Baffico served as platoon leader in the 101st Airborne Division in the Vietnam War. “I flew 206 combat assaults, I had five of my men killed,” he said. “When I came back, I had it all on my mind.”
Dean Adams served as an Army Civic Affairs medic on back to back tours of Afghanistan, Honduras and El Salvador. “El Salvador is where things really got personally traumatic,” he recalled. “We were a four person element and my team leader, on the Fourth of July, died.”
Adams and Baffico have both struggled with the guilt of not doing enough to save others. Like millions of veterans, they have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorders, or PTSD.
“I wasn’t prepared to admit I had a problem,” said Adams. “My family is the reason I’m alive and the reason I got treatment.”
While anti-depressants and therapy have helped, Evanston-based biotech company Aptinyx have a pill in the pipeline that they hope will prevent the trauma that triggers PTSD.
“The goal is actually to help patients extinguish fear they have, become conditioned to what causes the trauma they suffer,” said Aptinyx CEO Norbert Reider. Reider said clinical trials so far have shown favorable results for a diverse group of PTSD patients.
Adams hopes someday a medication can help him return to the person he once was. “Maybe I could be a paramedic again, maybe I could get in an ambulance. Now I don’t have the confidence in my abilities to do so,” he said.
It will take a few years of clinical trials before the FDA makes any decisions about the drug. If all goes as well, Aptinyx hopes it will help not only veterans, but millions of abuse victims and others who suffer from PTSD.