Researchers from the University of Sydney and Meeting for Minds (M4M) have conducted a ground-breaking study wherein they identified a connection between the immune system and serious mental health illness, previously unidentified.
The research has produced new antidotes for these conditions that most thought were not curable. It was presented by University of Sydney’s Professor Ian Hickie during the M4M forum in Perth.
“The key issue there is what’s driving the mental ill health is not so much a change in the brain, but a change in the immune system, an auto-immune disease that’s causing the aberrant behaviour,” he said, according to ABC News.
Hickie added that the connection between the two was initially thought to be unusual and that it was only present in certain cases. Additionally, the technologies that were needed to confirm that the disorders had an immune basis, were not present in the past.
The challenge now, Hickie explains, is to search for the right mix of therapies for a certain individual, as there are others that may need either an enhancement or containment to their immune systems, according to the Daily Mail.
Elle McCabe from Sydney was one of the beneficiaries of the research. After she suffered from a virus, she struggled with mental illness until the symptoms were cured under immune treatment.
After McCabe suffered a psychotic episode when she was 16, doctors cured her immune system through a combination of medication and a plasma infusion, a treatment she says that changed her life.
Swedish philanthropist Maria Halphen, who established the Perth-based charity three years ago, expressed her delight at the research’s success. “It’s fantastic. If I can do something like this it’s huge. But I’m just doing a tiny thing,” she said.
Creating clinical procedures in endorsing immune therapy as a treatment for mental illnesses, will be the next step after the presentation of the research.