5 things to know about a potential vaccine to fight mental illness

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Scientists have been researching a possible connection between mental illness and inflammation, and some believe a vaccine could someday be developed to combat certain mental illnesses, according to Vice.

Five things to know:

1. Researchers have found an association between mental health issues and autoimmune and inflammatory disorders, such as arthritis, asthma, Type 1 diabetes and allergies. There is further evidence that inflammation may be causing mental health issues, which in turn provoke further inflammation in a malicious feedback loop.

2. Increased inflammation could be due to patients' modern lifestyles. The immune system needs exposure to certain microbial organisms to develop healthily, but aspects of modern life such as diet, medication and lifestyle could be producing unhealthy immune systems that have not learned how to operate properly, thus increasing inflammation.

3. Mycobacterium vaccae, a soil bacteria, has been shown to reduce inflammation and its associated behavioral symptoms in several studies involving animal subjects. The studies were conducted by Christopher Lowry, PhD, a behavioral neuro-endocrinologist at the University of Colorado Boulder, and his coworkers.

4. Dr. Lowry envisions vaccinating patients with M. vaccae to guard against inflammation-caused mental health issues in the future. The vaccine could even be used as a booster for patients who have experienced traumatic incidents.

5. Dr. Lowry does not yet have permission from the Food and Drug Administration to use M. vaccae in clinical trials with humans, but he is testing an approved probiotic with immuno-regulatory effects.

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