New Patent App: Melanotan II to Enhance Oxytocin
May 09, 2012
Larry Young, one of the early researchers on oxytocin and bonding in prairie voles, applied for a patent on using Melanotan II to enhance the effects of oxytocin used during psychotherapy. Co-applicant is Meera E. Modi, a member of Young's lab at Emory University.
The patent application "relates to methods of improving social cognition in a subject in need thereof including administering a compound that stimulates oxytocin (OT) release in the brain. Typically, the compound that stimulated OT release is a melanocortin receptor agonist. The compound, in certain embodiments, is melanotan II or derivative thereof."
Melanotan II is a synthetic version of melatonin.
Young and Modi point out that there are melanocortin receptors located on nerve cells that produce oxytocin. So, instead of having a patient inhale oxytocin directly, he or she could be given melanotan II or something like it, which would cause the brain to release oxytocin.
A bit of scientific inside-baseball: Larry Young and Sue Carter got a lot of attention for their work showing oxytocin's effects on prairie voles, but they seemed to quickly get left behind when researchers, most notably Paul Zak, began dosing humans. So, it's interesting to see Young getting in this game.
Also, I'm not a patent expert, nor a researcher, but the Young-Modi patent application is based on studies done with prairie voles. In the early days, Young and Carter were careful to say that they didn't know if their research applied to humans. Turned out it did. But I wonder if a patent would be granted for human treatment based on animal studies. Any experts out there want to weigh in?
You can read the patent application here: http://www.freshpatents.com/-dt20120503ptan20120108510.php