The ultimate goals ofhormone studies are to arrive at an understanding of the physiological basis ofbehavior and to develop treatments for behavioral abnormalities. Synthetic hormones can be manufactured in the laboratory. Their mass production could provide solutions to many psychological problems such as stress, deviant behavior, and sexual dysfunction. Synthetic hormones already are being used as birth control mechanisms aimed at fooling the female body's reproductive hormonal systems.
Ongoing research focuses on the importance of many hormones, especially on understanding their functions and how they might be used in the treatment of common disorders. Two hormones produced by the hypothalamus and released by the posterior pituitary (neurohypophysis) gland are vasopressin (antidiuretic hormone) and oxytocin. Vasopressin keeps the kidneys from losing too much water and helps maintain the body's fluid balance. Variants of vasopressin which decrease blood pressure, identified by Maurice Manning, may lead to a new class of drugs to control high blood pressure. Oxytocin induces labor by causing uterine contractions and also promotes the production of milk for breastfeeding. Manning and Walter Chan are working to develop oxytocin receptor antagonists that may be used to prevent premature births.
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