Oslo, Norway — Scientists from the University of Oslo in Norway conducted a study that looked into the possibility of using oxytocin nasal spray to help cure— or at least ease— mental conditions, as well as autism, in patients.
The research, which was done in collaboration with Pennsylvania-based company OptiNose, was made based around the idea from recent researches that the hormone oxytocin is capable of boosting neuronal signals, which in turn helps the brain become more attuned to social cues such as facial expressions— something that individuals with autism are believed to be struggling with.
The scientists believe that drug delivery through nasal spray is far more effective than through the use of other mediums, as it makes the delivery of the drug to the brain far faster.
According to OptiNose, the type of technology that they were able to come up with delivers the drugs to the upper part of the nose, which is thought to be the best target in the nasal area to get the drugs to the brain more effectively.
The research involved a small clinical trial with 16 healthy adult participants. The scientists administered low and high doses of oxytocin to the participants through the nasal sprays, as well as an intravenous dose of the hormone.
The scientists noted that the oxytocin nasal spray in low doses appeared to be far more effective than that of the ones in high doses, while the intravenous doses given to the participants did not seem to have any effect on them at all.
According to study author and University of Oslo Professor Ole Andreassen:
“A dose that is lower, but that still influences behavior, will entail a lower risk of affecting other regulatory systems in the body. Very high doses of oxytocin could, in fact, have the opposite effect on social behavior.”
Results of the tests were measured based on how the participants scored in a test involving emotional ratings, where they were asked to identify different facial expressions.
The study was published in the journal Translational Psychiatry.
The scientists are planning on testing the oxytocin nasal sprays on individuals with mental disorders, and are hoping to expand their research in the near future.
Source: Emily Mullin: Forbes: Could A Hormone Nasal Spray Help People With Mental Illness And Autism?