Jun 28, 2007

Bremelanotide: Hey, Baby, Come a Little Closer to Me

Sure, I usually post articles on progressive politics. And yes, I do get burnt out with frustrations sometimes, and occasionally, yeah, I let off steam by writing about food or beauty or even [gasp] aphrodisiacs. Ever since I was a 10-year-old reading my big sister's copy of Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex but Were Afraid to Ask (at an early age, I had decided to be a sex therapist—instead, I moved to Japan and came back disillusioned with the whole Western-centricity of psycho-babble), I confess to a fascination with what substances can persuade people to, um, procreate. Used to be Spanish Fly was the only legit one. Now there's a whole pharmacopeia of prescription love potions.

I had a blast covering the latest homegrown Viagra discovered in the UK recently—one that comes from the quotidian and cheap winter-flowering heather—and have also written extensively on, well, chocolate, just because it's fun. So, indulge me as I procrastinate covering the role of the U.S. in the creation of the Taliban, the Bush–Cheney secret mini-government, and the FBI terror watch list that might have your name on it—oh, how about a couple of sweet paragraphs about the latest aphrodisiac that is causing quite a stir? (Pun warning: if you hate double-entendre, time to burst on outta here.)

The new craze? Bremelanotide. Not a household substance, nor even available—yet. But you will be getting an earful about it soon (now in the last phase of clinical trials). Also known as PT–141, this substance plays ménage à deux by treating, simultaneously, both male impotence and female "sexual arousal disorder." Quite a heady combo, don't you think? (I have to chuckle about that label—isn't it possible that it's not the woman's arousability that's broken? Maybe the guy has dirty toenails, or is a basic skin-flint? These are known turn-offs, after all.)

Palatin Technologies is the firm testing what is considered by some to be the "greatest sex drug ever." (The company's stock is traded on the AMEX Exchange as PTN.) Why is this new aphrodisiac arousing so much interest? Because, unlike Viagra, it doesn't pump up vascularity. Instead, Bremelanotide makes you, er, well, horny. Considering science is not fully sure of what causes the complex behavioral soup that humans describe as being horny, it's astounding that a substance could actually bypass the knowledge and go straight to your pants, er, head, or, wherever that feeling is localized.

Originally discovered when sunless tanning volunteers using a form of the substance had spontaneous and unelicited erections (don't ask—it's all in the Wikipedia link above), Bremelanotide, if it surges through the last phase of clinical trials, will leap on to market shelves in the form of a nasal spray. The New York Times magazine calls the libido pumper, "the first real, honest-to-God, horny-making, body-shaking, equal-opportunity aphrodisiac."


The image at the top of the post? The painting is entitled Birds and Bees, and is by Robert Joseph Donaghey.

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