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Possum Oxytocin Could Hold Key to Prostate Problems

  Brush-tailed possum 
  Originally uploaded by pierre pouliquin.

A form of oxytocin in the brush-tailed possum could provide a cure for enlarged prostrate glands in humans.

According to this rather vague article, the prostate gland of the brush-tailed possum is similar to the human. The possum's prostate grows and shrinks seasonally. In human males, on the other hand, the prostrate tends to enlarge with age. Sometimes it becomes cancerous; other times, it squeezes the urethra.

Evidently, studies have already indicated a role for oxytocin in  regulating prostate growth. The 2004 study led by Jo Fink that the Sydney Morning Herald reported on identified the areas in the possum that produced and responded to mesotocin, the possum form of oxytocin.

According to the study,

    Prostatic mesotocin concentrations were highest
    immediately before the increases in prostate weight associated
    with the autumn and spring breeding periods. At this time, mesotocin
    receptors were also present in the prostatic capsule in
    addition to those present in the glandular tissue. Mesotocin concentrations
    proceeded to decrease in association with the regression
    of prostate size toward the end of the breeding periods.
    No significant differences were present in serum testosterone or
    dihydrotestosterone throughout the year.

Because mesotocin levels rose before the breeding seasons and fell afterwards, with a concomitant increase and reduction in prostate size, it seems likely that mesotocin plays a role in regulating this growth -- and that oxytocin plays a similar role in the human man.

Therefore, these possums could be used to study treatments for humans.