A small clinical study performed by researchers in Sweden has given hope that oxytocin nasal spray may have benefits for sufferers of mental illness, and in particular patients who have difficulty understanding and reacting appropriately to social signals, including patients with autism.
Now, Scandinavian scientists have produced new data from a small clinical trial showing that low doses of oxytocin delivered as a nasal spray might benefit patients with mental and cognitive problems.
Researchers from the University of Oslo in Norway teamed up with Yardley, Pa.-based OptiNose to test the company’s investigational device designed to improve medicine delivery to the brain via the nose. The advantage of nasal drug delivery is that the effects can be felt more immediately than medication in an oral form. Nasal delivery is also used as a noninvasive alternative for some drugs that were traditionally administered intravenously. OptiNose claims that its technology delivers oxytocin to the upper part of the nose, which is thought to be a better target to get drugs to the brain.
The trial enrolled 16 healthy adult volunteers and evaluated two different doses of oxytocin and their effect on how social signals are perceived. Each of the men underwent four, single-dose treatments: a placebo, a low dose of oxytocin, a high dose of oxytocin and an intravenous dose of oxytocin. The intravenous dose was used to compare the effects of oxytocin in circulating blood. After each dose, participants were then presented with 20 male and 20 female faces displaying angry, happy and emotionally ambiguous expressions and were asked to identify how angry or happy the people seemed.
Another study has demonstrated a clear link between oxytocin and autism. It was found that giving children a single dose of oxytocin nasal spray activated the areas of the 'social brain' in them.
"Our findings provide the first, critical steps toward devising more effective treatments for the core social deficits in autism, which may involve a combination of clinical interventions with an administration of oxytocin," said study author Ilanit Gordon. "Such a treatment approach will fundamentally improve our understanding of autism and its treatment." The findings are preliminary, however, and the treatment will need more rigorous investigation before it could be recommended for use in the general public.
Studies such as these suggest that oxytocin nasal sprays may not only be used in the future to treat autism, but also other disorders which involve failings in social functioning, such as schizophrenia and, of course, social anxiety.
An Australian university has been awarded part of $2.5 million worth of funding in order to trial an oxytocin nasal spray as a treatment for autism. The funding will allow the University of Sydney's brain and mind research institute to pilot the use of oxytocin as a potential cure for patients suffering from autism.
Studies have suggested that oxytocin could increase the social skills of patients with autism, as well as a wide spectrum of people with social cognitive problems ranging from the shy to the schizophrenic.
Source : http://www.skynews.com.au/health/article.aspx?id=746547&vId=
Following studies that indicated an improvement in the social skills of patients with autism after taking an oxytocin nasal spray, a researcher at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland has conducted a similar study to investigate whether oxytocin could improve the social skill deficits of patients diagnosed with schizophrenia.
As well as suffering from delusions and hallucinations, patients with schizophrenia also suffer from a similar lack of ability as autistics to recognise the emotional states of others, and to function well in social situations.
The research carried out at Maryland found a dramatic improvement in the ability of the schizophrenic patients involved in the tests to recognise the emotional states of others from pictures of their faces. This dramatic improvement in the social skils of schizophrenics was made after just 3 weeks of treatment with oxytocin. Head of the research - B. B. Averbeck - believes more extensive research should now be conducted to further the exploration of the positive effects of oxytocin on patients with autism or schizophrenia.
sources include : http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/oxytocin-social-skills-schizophrenia-autism-0301122/