The recreational drug MDMA ("ecstasy") and a variety of related drugs have been described as empathogen-entactogens, or simply as entactogens. These agents possess serenic and empathy-increasing properties in addition to their euphoriant effects, and have been associated with increased sociability, friendliness, and feelings of closeness to others as well as emotional empathy and prosocial behavior. The entactogenic effects of these drugs are thought to be related to their ability to temporarily increase the levels of certain brain chemicals, including serotonin, dopamine, and, particularly, oxytocin. Certain other serotonergic drugs, such as 5-HT1A receptor agonists, also increase oxytocin levels and may possess serenic properties as well. The phenylpiperazine mixed 5-HT1A and 5-HT1B receptor agonists eltoprazine, fluprazine, and batoprazine have been described based on animal research as serenics.
Agonists and antagonists of the receptors for the endogenous hormones oxytocin and vasopressin, respectively, have been shown to decrease aggressive behavior in scientific research, implicating them in the normal regulation of pathways involving aggressive behavior in the brain. Certain neurosteroids, such as allopregnanolone, also appear to play a role in the regulation of aggression, including, notably, sexually-dimorphic aggressive behavior. The sex hormones testosterone and estradiol also regulate aggression.
SRX-246 is a vasopressin 1A receptor antagonist that is under development by Azevan Pharmaceuticals for the treatment of intermittent explosive disorder (IED). The results of a phase II clinical trial of the drug in the treatment of the condition are expected in the second quarter of 2016.
As of yet, there are no specific serenic drugs available to treat aggression or other conditions in clinical use. However, various atypical antipsychotics have been found effective and are approved and used specifically in the treatment of aggression/irritability in autism and Alzheimer's disease.
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