Scientists Develop A Vaccine For Stress

drsapolsky-512_370x278Is this a step on the path to a Brave New World? The head of a research team at Stanford says he is on the verge of producing a vaccine that would deactivate the brain’s stress-causing chemicals. For the first time, people could shut off the fight-or-flight mechanism that has determined our behavior (and helped ensure our survival) since the caveman era. Via CBS News:

Dr Robert Sapolsky, a neuroscience professor at Stanford, says after 30 years of studying stress, his team might be on the verge of a novel cure.

Sapolsky has long theorized that, unlike some animals, humans are unable to turn off stress chemicals used for the fight-or-flight mechanism. A class of hormone called glucocorticoids are one of the chief offenders, according to Sapolsky.

So his team has pioneered a way to bootstrap a “herpes virus to carry engineered ‘neuroprotective’ genes deep into the brain to neutralize the rogue hormones before they can cause damage.”

So far, rat studies have gone well, according to the British paper. Human trials are still years away.

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  • Andrew

    This is fantastic! Now we'll be able to compete in the economy until we drop!

  • mcgibbo

    Could be the next Narcotic

  • Your Mom

    You can have my soma when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

  • fuzzgun

    It's truly amazing how neuroscientists and psychiatrists can be so illogical – they're operating under the assumption that society and the conditions under which we live couldn't possibly be the root cause of mental disorders, so the problem must be a physical defect in the individual's brain. If high levels of stress hormones are found in the brains of humans, it's the RESULT of stress and not the cause. Any particular emotion or mindset activates different parts of the brain and different neurotransmitters/receptors are involved. Deactivating key stress hormones would lead to a less stressful life in the same way that cutting out the tendons in your ankles would lead to a less active life.

    • Haystack

      Just like the eating a Hershey bar is the RESULT of tasting chocolate! *g*

      • fuzzgun

        Saying that stress and unhappiness can be blamed on neurotransmitters is like saying that fistfights can be blamed on arm muscles. Correlation and causation aren't the same. Let's say I laughed at your witless comment – a brain scan would show the chemical makeup of my brain changing as I laughed. So which made me laugh – your comment, or the chemicals in my brain? If someone's suicidally depressed due to the death of a loved one, their brain scan will resemble that of other depressed people. If this is evidence of a brain disease, then exactly how would external stimuli like the death of a loved one induce such a disease?

        • Haystack

          Did the Teletubbies make you laugh, if they only became funny after you had smoked a joint? Or would you say that you're laughing because you got stone? Each brain is different and its responses differ for reasons that include the social as well as the biochemical. Its not a question of confusing correlation of causation; causation is multivariate. There are people who would not be depressed by the death of a loved one because their wiring is such that they have never felt empathy or loss.

          Stress is your fight or flight response being triggered, and its a problem because that response is being triggered by things like having to sit in an office. You can choose which variable you want to manipulate. You can undo modern society and return to the stone age, or change the biochemistry of your brain to interpret stress differently. Either would work.

          • fuzzgun

            “Did the Teletubbies make you laugh, if they only became funny after you had smoked a joint? Or would you say that you're laughing because you got stone?”

            By your reasoning, I laughed because pot corrected the imbalance in my brain's cannabinoid receptors that had prevented me from enjoying Teletubbies.

            “Stress is your fight or flight response being triggered, and its a problem because that response is being triggered by things like having to sit in an office. “

            You're taking a lot for granted about society. Why isn't severe daily stress an appropriate reaction to a lifetime of wage slavery? How could you possibly justify pathologizing the brain mechanisms by which all humans feel stress, particularly when soldiers returning from war would also undoubtedly demonstrate high levels of stress hormones in their brains? Going to war gives you a brain disease?

            “You can choose which variable you want to manipulate. You can undo modern society and return to the stone age, or change the biochemistry of your brain to interpret stress differently. “

            Right. The problem is, nothing you're describing is unique to psychiatric drugs. ALL mood-altering drugs produce their effects by changing the levels of various neurotransmitters in the brain, which alters the brain's reaction to stimuli. Putting unhappiness or stress in chemical terms is clever but disingenuous marketing to make it sound like an illness is being treated- after all, if someone's suffering from a hypothetical “chemical imbalance”, then the neurotransmitter-altering effects of a psychotropic drug would in theory be treatment for a physical brain disease. In reality, ALL mood-altering drugs work by changing levels of neurotransmitters.

            Let me boil down your position – you're advocating that the logical solution to widespread stress is to unleash a virus in the body that destroys the parts of the brain activated during stress. If this were the fifties, you'd be arguing in favor of lobotomies.

          • fuzzgun

            I left in a redundant sentence at the end of the next to last paragraph. Oops.

          • Simon

            It's OK, no one is reading anyway.

  • justagirl

    side effects include festering, open wounds around the mouth and genital areas and a complete lack of concern for healing them.

  • Stonygiant

    DARPA has already been trying to achieve this, and who knows they probably already have. i know on their website DARPA.mil you can look it up and just recently they where awarded 30million by the US government to do so . SOON WE CAN ALL LOOK FORWARD TO STRESS FREE HUMANOID COMBAT FIGHTERS POLICING OUR STREETS plus THEY WONT HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT ALL THE STRESS THAT BEING A HONEST HUMBLE HUMAN BRINGS YAY FOR ALL OF US!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Anon.

    That is actually quite disturbing. My stress is what I feel makes me human. Sure, it sucks to get pissed, but it would be a feeling similar to sedation I can imagine that I would experience having my hormonal reactions shut off. I think I'll just stick with getting pissed and smoking, as this is not a feasible product of scientific 'progress' that would be applicable in my lifetime.

    • Gemmarama

      totally. NOT feeling stress in certain situations is as much of a psychological problem as getting TOO stressed. reminds me of CBT – why solve the problem when you can just manage your reaction to it?

  • Hadrian999

    kinda reminds me of the plot of serenity

  • Simon

    It’s OK, no one is reading anyway.