Research into the effects of melanocortins has a huge potential to revolutionise medicine. Here are a few of the effects of melanocortin peptides on the brain:
Increase of motivation Increase of attention Improvement of short-term memory Increase of visual retention Lowering of auditory, gustatory and olfactory detection thresholds Functional antagonism of opiate effects Inhibition of feeding (satiety-inducing effect) Antiinflammatory effect (sites of action: brain and immunocytes) Antipyretic effect Reversal of hypovolemic hypotension Reversal of shock Resuscitation after prolonged asphyxia Improvement of recovery after traumatic brain lesions and spinal cord injuries Delay of the aging-linked behavioural deficits Beneficial influences in neurodegenerative disorders Increase of regenerative capacity of peripheral nerves in postlesion repair Improvement of diabetic and toxic neuropathies Induction of spontaneous penile erections Increase of [sexual] proceptivity and receptivity (in females)
Like I say, those are a few of the effects that have been discovered so far for the melanocortins (melanocyte stimulating hormones [MSH], ACTH). New drugs which can either block or stimulate these hormone receptors will likely revolutionise treatment for:
Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative disease
Sexual Dysfunction for males and females
Anorexia and Cachexia
Various learning disorders
...and quite a few things more. It is only in the past decades that scientists have been able to distinguish different receptor types for the many peptides and neurotransmitters affecting the brain and nerves. Now, it looks like nothing can stop the steamroller of biomedical and biotech research -- except perhaps bad government that wastes precious resources on policies that have failed for many generations.
If you have an interest in any of the listed diseases or hormonal effects above, visit the linked article and skip down to the section that interests you particularly. It is a long review article that covers a wide range of effects and potential therapies. I strongly recommend learning to read scientific articles -- despite their dryness -- because any person who can draw meaning from the early stages of research can often see into the future, and profit from that vision. If you wait until "science journalists" spell it out and dumb it down for you, it may be too late.
When the baby revolutions of nanotechnology, biotechnology, information sciences, and cognitive sciences begin to grow up and converge, you will begin to understand how quickly things can change.