Penn Researchers Start Trial of Pheromone-Based Treatment
PA) - Sometimes, a good deep, cleansing breath can really
do a world of good to change your mood. Now researchers
at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
are testing a nasal spray medication designed to do
just that for sufferers of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a severe
form of PMS featuring significant depression and other
mood problems. Ellen Freeman, PhD, of the Penn department
of Obstetrics and Gynecology, is seeking women to participate
in the Phase-II clinical trial of the medication, called
PH80 uses molecules that, like certain pheromones, can
influence physiology and behavior when breathed in through
the nose. While researchers are only beginning to understand
the workings of pheromones in humans, this is one of
the first pharmaceuticals developed to use the pheromone
method of drug delivery.
"This is a decidedly unique approach to treating
the symptoms of PMS and PMDD," said Freeman, research
professor and co-director of Penn's Center for Human
Behavior and Reproduction. "The nasal spray is
designed to provide near-instant relief on-demand, and
this trial will determine whether it is a promising
treatment for clinically significant PMS."
PH80 uses pheromone-like molecules to stimulate nerve
receptors in the vomeronasal organ (VMO), which is located
just inside the nasal passages. When stimulated, the
receptors send a signal to the hypothalmus, a region
of the brain that regulates the endocrine and central
nervous system. The medication is produced by Pherin
Pharmaceuticals, a corporation that specializes in the
production of pheromone-based pharmaceuticals.
"One of the possible benefits of a drug like PH80
is that it may produce quick relief in small dosages,"
said Freeman, "which means that women suffering
from PMS and PMDD can treat the symptoms as they occur."
Currently, the only FDA-approved treatment for the symptoms
of PMS and PMDD are SSRIs - or Selective Serotonin ReUptake
Inhibitors - medications that were initially designed
for the treatment of depression. Unlike SSRIs, women
using PH80 do not need to take the drug on a regular
basis, but can use it as they feel symptoms, such as
mood swings and irritability, develop. This Phase-II
study is part of the ongoing research into PH80, examining
the efficacy of the drug in treating the symptoms of
PMS and PMDD.
To participate in this study, women must be between
21 and 37 years old and have regular menstrual cycles.
Qualified volunteers will receive free medications,
lab tests, office visits, valet parking, and travel
reimbursement. Daytime appointments are available Monday
through Friday at the Hospital of the University of
Pennsylvania office. Evening appointments are available
on several weekdays. Appointments are also available
at offices in Radnor and Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania
and in Marlton and Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey.
For more information, please contact the Premenstrual
Syndrome Program at Penn at 1-800-662-4487 or 215-662-3329.
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Editor's Note: Dr. Freeman has no financial interest
in Pherin Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
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