June 28, 2004 -- An experimental new drug may help boost sexual desire for women suffering from low libido, according to a new study.
Researchers say sexual desire disorders, such as hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), affect about 30% of women in North America and Europe, but there are few effective medications available to treat the problem.
In the study, researchers tested the effects of the drug PT-141 on female rats and found it significantly increased the rats' sexual appetite. If further studies confirm these results, they say the drug may be the first drug specifically designed to treat female sexual disorder.
Drug May Boost Low Libido
PT-141 is a drug that resembles the skin pigmentation hormone called melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH), which is produced by the brain. Estrogen increases MSH levels, and studies have suggested that this increase may explain a peak in sexual arousal that is seen in women during ovulation when estrogen levels are high. The experimental drug is also under investigation as a possible treatment for erectile dysfunction.
In this study, which appears in today's online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers looked at whether PT-141 might also have an affect on female sexual behavior.
Researchers injected female rats with PT-141 or a placebo and then placed the rat in a chamber with a male rat and observed their behavior.
The study showed that the female rats that received the drug displayed many more sexual behaviors intended to solicit and arouse the male rats, such as darting and hopping. The drug did not cause an increase in general behavior compared with the placebo group.
Researchers say that although the sexual behavior of rats is different from that of humans, this study indicates that this pathway is important in regulating female sexual desire. They conclude that PT-141 has the properties expected of a treatment for sexual desire disorder.
SOURCE: Pfaus, J. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, online early edition, June 28, 2004.