Scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory led byProfessor Hiro Furukawa have revealed a mechanism that could lead to this kind of long-sought specificity for treatments of strokes and seizures.
In a healthy brain, the NMDA (N-methyl, D-aspartate) receptor is responsible for controlling the flow of electrically charged atoms, or ions, in and out of a neuron. The "firing" of these signals is crucial for learning and memory formation. However, overactive neurons can lead to disastrous consequences. Abnormal NMDA receptor activities have been observed in various neurological diseases and disorders, such as stroke, seizure, depression, and Alzheimer's disease, and in individuals born with genetic mutations.
Furukawa's team, in collaboration with scientists at Emory University, looked for a way to prevent over-firing NMDA receptors without affecting normal regions of the brain.
Using a method known as X-ray crystallography, the researchers were able to see that a motif on the 93-series compound slots into a tiny, never-before-noticed pocket within the NMDA receptor. Experimentation showed that this pocket is particularly sensitive to the pH around it.
For more informatio, visit: CSHL
Read more related topics: