A new study suggests the aforesaid hormone of love, oxytocin, may be worth examining as a treatment for the novel coronavirus.
One of the most grievous difficulties of infection with the new COVID-19 is a “cytokine storm,” which is when the body assaults its own tissues. There is presently no treatments approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for SARS-CoV-2, which means according to the researchers that “repurposing existing drugs that can act on the adaptive immune response and prevent the cytokine storm in early phases of the disease is a priority.” Preceding research hints that oxytocin — a ‘love hormone’ that is involved in childbirth and reproduction which is produced in the brain — minimizes inflammation.
In this latest study, Ali Imami, a University of Toledo in Ohio graduate research assistant, and colleagues utilized a U.S. National Institutes of Health database to evaluate traits of genes dosed with drugs intimately related to oxytocin. The researchers discovered that one drug, specifically, carbetocin, has similar attributes (called signatures) to genes with decreased expression of the incendiary markers that prompt cytokine storm in SARS-CoV-2 patients.
Carbetocin’s signature indicates that the drug may spark activation of T-cells that play a pertinent role in an immune reaction. Also, carbetocin’s signature is analogous also to that of lopinavir, an antiretroviral drug that is under study as a treatment for the coronavirus. The authors noted in their journal Physiological Genomics report, which was published recently online: “Understanding the mechanisms by which oxytocin or the oxytocin system can be a new immune target is crucial. Safety and efficacy of intravenous oxytocin in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 remain to be assessed.”
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