Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Let's make a Love Drug!
Oxytocin is the love hormone, the magic chemical that creates warm, fuzzy feelings of bonding, trust, empathy and cuddle cravings. When someone's level of oxytocin goes up, he or she responds more generously and caringly, even with complete strangers. This is useful of course; for example, in the bar (chatting up a hot chick), or on the battlefield (making the Islamic Insurgents fall in love with their enemy). The problem is though, that oxytocin has to be injected, which is rather inconvenient, of course on a first date ("Excuse me, Cindy, just roll up your sleeve"?), and negotiating a ceasefire on the field for such a purpose is likely to prove nontrivial. So what is needed is something that one can just spray, or pop in a drink. That could be an oxytocin activator.
Now, how about this? Last week at a neutron workshop in UCSD I chatted with Bi-Cheng Wang of UGA, with whom I wrote a paper 15 years ago on the activation of oxytocin (Boris Velikson was my postdoc who did the modeling). On the bus at the airport we decided that all we need is to design a molecule that will do the activation (cleave the precursor at Arg2-Asp13) and voila! - beautiful people wherever you need them. Drug is the Love! Anyone having problems with the wife or got an obstreperous teenager? Maybe a dog that barks too much? Send the research dollars our way!!!
[Disclaimer: for all the spoil sports - yes, I know there are ethical problems with this type of thing, and, yes, I'm not serious, and, yes, I know there is already a oxytocin nasal spray being tested for autistic kids [but an activator may be more effective anyway]].