Medical researchers believe they have discovered the world’s first PTSD vaccine. The vaccination works by regulating one of the body’s own hormones.
Developed by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the vaccine focuses on the hormone known as ghrelin. That hormone is produced during stressful situations, and therefore makes it a prime candidate for triggering the brains panic during moments of post-traumatic stress. Not only does the PTSD vaccine protect against future attacks, it also can help prevent against the formation of PTSD before it occurs.
Ki Gossens, assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences at MIT, explains how the vaccine would work:
“You would get a shot, and for a year it would lower your ghrelin levels… When you were deployed and exposed to the stress of combat, your ghrelin levels would go up and the vaccine would combat that. That should reduce the incidence of PTSD. Right now, we don’t have anything to prevent it.”
For years ghrelin was dubbed the “hunger hormone” because it was known to make people hungrier. Drug companies actually targeted the hormone as a way to cure obesity, unfortunately those attempts were unsuccessful.
Researchers injected rats with ghrelin and noticed an increase in fear compared to normal rates. When they blocked the cell receptors that interact with ghrelin reduced fear was experienced in chronically stressed rats.
Ghrelin works alongside the hormones cortisol and adrenaline as part of the bodies fight-or-flight neurochemical system.
According to Gossens, “What we are suggesting is that the ghrelin pathway operates in parallel… We think the emotional disorders (such as PTSD) following trauma exposure are the result of elevated ghrelin rather than HPA. It gives us a completely new set of targets to treat PTSD.”
Grehlin because of its tests with obesity patients has already passed human-testing standards, that could mean a human drug trial could be fast-tracked.
Some scientists worry that because of the “hunger hormone” aspect of the hormone, it could lead some soldiers to become anorexic or suffer from other side effects.
The groups full study appears in this weeks edition of the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
Are you amazed that a PTSD vaccine may be on the horizon.