25 January 2009

Another Revolution in Pharmacology

Research into the effects of melanocortins is incredibly exciting in its potential to revolutionise medicine. Here are a few of the effects of melanocortin peptides on the brain:
Induction of spontaneous penile erections
Increase of [sexual] proceptivity and receptivity (in females)
Increase of motivation
Increase of attention
Improvement of short-term memory
Increase of visual retention
Lowering of auditory, gustatory and olfactory detection thresholds
Functional antagonism of opiate effects
Inhibition of feeding (satiety-inducing effect)
Antiinflammatory effect (sites of action: brain and immunocytes)
Antipyretic effect
Reversal of hypovolemic hypotension
Reversal of shock
Resuscitation after prolonged asphyxia
Improvement of recovery after traumatic brain lesions and spinal cord injuries
Delay of the aging-linked behavioural deficits
Beneficial influences in neurodegenerative disorders
Increase of regenerative capacity of peripheral nerves in postlesion repair
Improvement of diabetic and toxic neuropathies
_Pharmacological Research
Like I say, those are a few of the effects that have been discovered so far for the melanocortins (melanocyte stimulating hormones [MSH], ACTH). New drugs which can either block or stimulate these hormone receptors will likely revolutionise treatment for:
  1. Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative disease
  2. Stroke
  3. Diabetic Neuropathy
  4. Hemorrhagic Shock
  5. Sexual Dysfunction for males and females
  6. Obesity
  7. Anorexia and Cachexia
  8. Depression
  9. Anxiety
  10. Various learning disorders
...and quite a few things more. It is only in the past decades that scientists have been able to distinguish different receptor types for the many peptides and neurotransmitters affecting the brain and nerves. Now, it looks like nothing can stop the steamroller of biomedical and biotech research -- except perhaps bad government that wastes precious resources on policies that have failed for many generations.

If you have an interest in any of the listed diseases or hormonal effects above, visit the linked article and skip down to the section that interests you particularly. It is a long review article that covers a wide range of effects and potential therapies. I strongly recommend learning to read scientific articles -- despite their dryness -- because any person who can draw meaning from the early stages of research can often see into the future, and profit from that vision. If you wait until "science journalists" spell it out and dumb it down for you, it may be too late.

When the baby revolutions of nanotechnology, biotechnology, information sciences, and cognitive sciences begin to grow up and converge, you will begin to understand how quickly things can change.

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