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Spotted: Rebranding oxytocin; marsupial madness

by  /  26 June 2015

June 22nd

Rebranding oxytocin

Some people call it the ‘love molecule’; others prefer ‘cuddle hormone.’ There’s no shortage of warm, fuzzy nicknames for oxytocin, but what autism researchers really want is hard science.

An article published this week in Nature suggests the old hormone needs a new shtick — a rebranding of sorts. “It doesn’t induce love; it doesn’t induce massive amounts of trust,” Adam Guastella, clinical psychologist at the University of Sydney, told Nature. “The sorts of biology we’re studying here are incredibly complex.”

Trials testing the hormone’s effects in people with autism have been inconclusive. That’s why researchers are taking a step back trying to truly understand oxytocin’s effects in the brain. For more about the molecule’s lingering promise, check out our Q&A with oxytocin pioneer Larry Young, director of the Silvio O. Conte Center for Oxytocin and Social Cognition at Emory University in Atlanta.

One response to “Spotted: Rebranding oxytocin; marsupial madness”

  1. Seth Bittker says:

    With respect to oxytocin some of us have been skeptical for some time that it would prove efficacious in autism for long term use.

    We know that autism biochemistry is typically characterized by dysfunction that is much more fundamental than at the level of hormones alone. For example biochemical findings associated with autism include: dysbiosis, oxidative stress, fatty acid metabolism dysfunction, vascular damage, sulfation deficits, methylation deficits and autoimmunity among other issues. See:

    Why would one think that manipulating hormones would have significant positive effects on this biochemistry? It seems to me that researchers should focus on lower level issues such as those mentioned above to find therapies that may be efficacious.

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