Shy No More? Fear No More?
(Top Posts - Science - 071907)

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July 14, 2007

Times of India
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Complete article:

University of Zurich researchers have created
a spray that can relieve people of shyness, and
help them socialise with others.

The spray is very easy to use, and an individual
can boost self-confidence just by squirting it up
the nose.

The researchers say that the spray harnesses
the powers of a feel-good hormone called oxy-
tocin, a neurotransmitter in the brain that is in-
volved in social recognition and bonding.

The mammalian hormone is produced naturally
by the body when a person is in love, and it also
induces labour in pregnant women. The spray
contains a synthetic version of it, created in the

University researcher Dr Markus Heinrichs says
that the spray was found to "dramatically" change
the behaviour of 70 adults during a study.

He says that all study participants had stopped
feeling anxious, and started to engage better with
others in the group.

While presenting the findings of the study at the
World Congress of Neuroscience in Melbourne,
Dr Heinrichs said that the hormone had an effect
on the part of the brain that controls fear response.

He also said spraying into the nasal passages was
the most effective method of its administration, as
it was absorbed into the body more rapidly, reports
the Sun.

The researchers are now planning to conduct large-
scale trials of the spray. If the trials prove successful,
the spray may be launched in the market in the next
five years.

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In a different area of research ...

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July 16, 2007

Drug to treat persistent fear now possible
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U.S. scientists have found a molecular
mechanism that governs the formation of
fears stemming from traumatic events.

The researchers ... said their discovery
could lead to the first drug to treat persist-
ent, debilitating fears ... inhibiting a kinase
called Cdk5 facilitates the extinction of
fear learned in a particular context. ...

"Remarkably, inhibiting Cdk5 facilitated
extinction of learned fear in mice ...

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