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Op-Ed: Immune cells key to schizophrenia? Stunning new find

New research at Neuroscience Research Australia indicates an increased number of immune cells in schizophrenia patients. These cells are believed to be able to affect brain functions. Studies indicate that people suffering psychosis had much elevated levels of immune cells, up to twice as many as non-sufferers.
Neuroscience ain’t in Kansas anymore. Immune cells ain’t just any cells, either. These cells are always active. They are sustained by the body, and counterproductive effects may also be unwittingly supported.
This line of research may relate to a wide range of conditions, symptoms, and even hallucinations. Science has just been given a gigantic puzzle to complete, if this is the case.
The simple fact is that many “psych” conditions also have physical correlatives, a sort of audit trail of conditions. For example – Depression is linked to hormone levels. People with depression have different levels of critical hormones. What if something in the immune system, or some other class of active cells, is suppressing hormones? You can see what a very large range of possible issues is involved.
Can these cells do that? What can they do, what can’t they do, etc. Why would immune cells cause a pathology which causes schizophrenia? What’s the fix? A gene switch? Chemicals? New targeted drugs?
The truth could be hiding in plain sight. This could be the first glimpse of a Rosetta Stone in some of the most complex psych disorders. It may also have ramifications for other neurological conditions.
The lead researcher, Professor Cyndi Shannon Weickert, has made it her life’s work to study schizophrenia, which has affected her own family. Let’s say that Prof. Weickert’s work cannot possibly be in vain. If this is the discovery which finally unlocks the cures some of the world’s most appalling conditions, a few Nobel Prizes couldn’t be acknowledgement enough. For millions of people around the world, (like 3.2 million in the US alone) the end of their horror stories may be just years away.

Written By

Editor-at-Large based in Sydney, Australia.

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