Dr Robert Sapolsky, professor of neuroscience at Stanford University in California has been researching stress reduction cures for many years and believes that it is possible to alter brain chemistry to in order to create a state of calm.
Professor Sapolsky began his research by observing the damage caused by stress on animals in Kenya. He found that mammals produce hormones known as glucocorticoids, which are part of the body’s immune system and help to fight cancer and inflammation. It is these hormones which helped the animals to deal with threat often by running away.
His observations showed that whilst a zebra turns off stress chemicals after escaping a lion, modern man produce too many glucocorticoids in response to everyday alarms and cannot turn them off afterwards.
In the human body this hormone becomes toxic, destroying brain cells and weakening the immune system and on a social level causes people to continually snap at their friends and family despite the source of tension having already died down.
The team of experts at Stanford have now adapted a herpes virus to carry engineered ‘neuroprotective’ genes deep into the brain to neutralise the rogue hormones before they cause any damage.
Though the virus has been found to work effectively in rats, human trials are still many years away.