An Emory University research team led by Andrew H. Miller, professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine, recently released the results of a study proposing a novel treatment target for difficult cases of depression. Inflammation is the body’s innate reaction to a wound, but has also been observed in patients with depression and chronic inflammation is associated with depression cases that do not respond to typical medications and treatments. In the study, participants with chronic inflammation and depression received infliximab, a drug used to treat inflammatory and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, or a placebo in addition to a prescribed anti-depression regimen. Infliximab was found to improve the treatment outcomes for depressed individuals with high levels of inflammation, and is a promising tool leveraging the immune system in the treatment of psychiatric conditions.
For more information about the study, please visit: http://news.emory.edu/stories/2012/09/psych_miller_inflam_dep_archgenpsych/index.html.
Emory Vaccine Center researchers are exploring ways to overcome the “original antigenic sin”, a process in which the immune system produces the wrong antibodies after it has encountered multiple strains of the same virus. Using a mouse model, the team has been able to demonstrate that an vaccine adjuvant can be utilized to overcome the “original antigenic sin” with the flu virus. For more information about the discovery, please visit: http://news.emory.edu/stories/2012/08/flu_vaccines_original_sin/index.html.
Researchers Andrew Miller, MD and William P. Timmie, PhD of Emory University, and Charles Raison, MD, previously at Emory University and now at the University of Arizona, are taking an evolutionary approach to studying the relationships between depression and immune system function.
Due to findings that much of the genetic variation observed in depression is related to changes in immune system function, specifically in inflammation, they propose that this would have offered an evolutionary benefit in terms of being able to fight infections. For example, there are numerous behavioral factors related to depressions that may have been adaptive in terms of restricting or containing infection, including social avoidance and fatigue/inactivity.
To read more about their recent publication, visit the Emory News Center website. Part two of the video above is available through the Emory University You Tube Channel.