Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Tetanus for Depression?

I often wonder how scientists come up with their discoveries. What on earth
compelled Louis Pastuer to inject people with toxic bacteria? Lucky for the
world, his germ theory that led to the concept of vaccinations cured instead
of killed.

I thought about Pasteur, the founder of the science of microbiology, this
morning when I read an article entitled “Docs Use Tetanus to Cure
Depression.” It appears that Spanish scientists in their labs at the
University of Barcelona found that sub-lethal doses of tetanus show promise
as a depression treatment. Fine if it works, but what on earth compelled
these scientists to inject their study subjects with tetanus?

There are two parts to the tetanus molecule. One part produces the toxic and
potentially deadly tetanus symptoms while the other part is harmless. The
experiments indicate that the harmless part of the tetanus molecule inhibits
serotonin from making its way to connecting with neurons. Scientists believe
depression - as well as some behavior disorders - can be curtailed by
inhibiting serotonin from reaching the neurons. Scientists also believe this
tetanus treatment can be used as protection against neuro-degenerative
disorders such as Parkinson’s.

It will be interesting to follow this development. It could add a whole new
value to getting your tetanus shot.

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