Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists advance understanding of brain receptor; May help fight neurological disorders

Date:
May 28, 2013
Source:
Oregon Health & Science University
Summary:
Researchers have discovered important new properties in a common brain receptor that has been implicated in a wide range of neurological disorders. The discovery may help in the development of drugs to combat the disorders.

For several years, the pharmaceutical industry has tried to develop drugs that target a specific neurotransmitter receptor in the brain, the NMDA receptor. This receptor is present on almost every neuron in the human brain and is involved in learning and memory. NMDA receptors also have been implicated in several neurological and psychiatric conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia and depression.

But drug companies have had little success developing clinically effective drugs that target this receptor.

Now, researchers at Oregon Health & Science University's Vollum Institute believe they may understand why. And what they've discovered may help in the development of new therapies for these conditions.

In a paper published in the current issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, OHSU scientists describe their work on NMDA receptors. There are various types of NMDA receptors, resulting from differences in the protein components that make up the receptor. These differences in the protein components produce receptors with varying properties.

As drug companies have worked to develop compounds that manipulate the activity of these receptors, the focus of much of this drug discovery effort has been on a specific NMDA receptor subtype. In their Journal of Neuroscience paper, the OHSU scientists describe their discovery -- that the specific receptor subtype that drug companies have seen as a target is an almost nonexistent contributor of NMDA receptor action.

What does exist, the OHSU scientists found, was a different kind of NMDA receptor subtype -- one containing two specific protein components, called GluN2A and GluN2B. NMDA receptors containing these two components were not thought to be very common. The OHSU study found that not only was this NMDA receptor subtype more common than previously believed, it was the most common subtype at synapses. And it was far more common than the receptor subtype that has been the target of drug development efforts.

"What our paper shows is that one reason no drugs have worked well to this point may be because that particular NMDA receptor subtype isn't there in high quantities. The target they've been looking for isn't the target that's there," said Ken Tovar, Ph.D., a senior postdoctoral fellow at the Vollum Institute. Tovar's co-authors on the paper were Gary Westbrook, M.D., senior scientist and co-director of the Vollum Institute, and Matthew McGinley, Ph.D., a former graduate student in the Westbrook laboratory.

Tovar said these findings could provide a new target for drug development.

"If you know what's there, then you know what to go after -- you just have to figure out how to do it," Tovar said.

The OHSU study also provides clues into how the function of this most common NMDA receptor subtype might be manipulated. Highly specific drugs interact with either GluN2A or GluN2B. Tovar and colleagues demonstrated that when GluN2A and GluN2B coexist in the same receptor, molecules that targeted GluN2A change the behavior of the receptor in ways that could be clinically beneficial.

"NMDA receptors have been implicated in a diverse list of neurological and psychiatric conditions. Thus, the more we know about how to modulate the behavior of the receptors that are there -- at synapses -- the greater chance we have of finding drugs to treat these conditions," Tovar said.

"From the perspective of drug development, knowing the nature of your target is one way to keep drug development costs down," said Tovar. "Spending resources investigating a target that turns out to be unimportant means those costs get passed on to the drugs that are effective."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Oregon Health & Science University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. K. R. Tovar, M. J. McGinley, G. L. Westbrook. Triheteromeric NMDA Receptors at Hippocampal Synapses. Journal of Neuroscience, 2013; 33 (21): 9150 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0829-13.2013

Cite This Page:

Oregon Health & Science University. "Scientists advance understanding of brain receptor; May help fight neurological disorders." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 May 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130528181032.htm>.
Oregon Health & Science University. (2013, May 28). Scientists advance understanding of brain receptor; May help fight neurological disorders. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130528181032.htm
Oregon Health & Science University. "Scientists advance understanding of brain receptor; May help fight neurological disorders." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130528181032.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Wedged between buses, lorries and cars, cycling in London isn't for the faint hearted. Nevertheless the number of people choosing to bike in the British capital has doubled over the past 15 years. Duration: 02:27 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

AFP (Aug. 30, 2014) Authorities in Liberia try to stem the spread of the Ebola epidemic by raising awareness and setting up sanitation units for people to wash their hands. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins