I saw the article “Nasal spray device for mental illness” (http://www.neuroscientistnews.com/clinical-updates/nasal-spray-device-mental-illness) article late last night and decided to simply post it because it was so interesting (https://bipolar1blog.wordpress.com/2015/08/28/nasal-spray-device-for-mental-illness/) Somehow, even though I didn’t post it on my FB Bipolar1Blog page, my statistics show that it’s gotten 25 views! That is a huge amount of traffic in less than 12 hours! People are looking for new ways to treat mental illness, obviously, we all are. And here is a novel way, using a nasal spray. Although not so novel if you think about people whose noses are/were rimmed with white powder in rest rooms of fancy restaurants, coming out with glassy eyes and torrential conversations and activity. That would be the first intranasal “therapy” for whatever you thought ailed you. Just something that occurred to me, no disrespect to people with mental illness or old or new or developing treatments for mental illness! Anyway, we’ve known for a long time that substances can reach the brain through the nose, (nose http://www.webmd.com/brain/news/20010222/this-nasal-spray-may-clear-your-brain-not-your-sinuses) There are nerve endings in the nose from two very powerful nerves, the olfactory nerve and the trigeminal nerve. And both these nerves obviously have their roots in the brain. So if substances can travel these nerve “super highways”, they can get directly into the brain without having to go into the bloodstream, thereby avoiding the blood brain barrier. Large molecules such as Oxytocin, cannot cross the blood brain barrier. It is also faster to send molecules to the brain through the nasal route than to have them enter the bloodstream, go to the heart and then be pumped out to the rest of the body and brain.
So these researchers in Oslo decided to look at Oxytocin, a molecule that promotes social interaction, eases pregnancy, childbirth, and milk letdown after the birth of the infant. They observe that people with autism, schizophrenia, and bipolar d/o have poor social functioning, so a dose of Oxytocin will help them be better in social interactions. Since Oxytocin is a large molecule, it wouldn’t pass the blood brain barrier, so they decided to try this nasal route. It helps if you have a big nose, and if you breathe. The Oxytocin goes directly to the brain and “The research showed that only those administered a low dose of oxytocin experienced an effect on how they perceived social signals.”
The researchers say that these effects were seen in only the men who received low doses of Oxytocin intranasally. The effects were not seen in men who received Oxytocin intravenously.
Whatever the effects were, whether Oxytocin can be used as a therapy for mental illness or not, this study is important because it shows that drugs can be delivered intranasally, directly to the brain, avoiding the blood circulation and the blood brain barrier and or GI/stomach problems. More drugs can be tested for intranasal delivery. A quicker and hopefully more effective route into the brain, leading to more effective therapies for treating mental/neurological illnesses.