Flow of Potassium Into Cells Implicated in Schizophrenia—Blocking Errant Protein Could Stem Runaway Brain Activity in Psychosis

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A study on schizophrenia has implicated machinery that maintains the flow of potassium in cells and revealed a potential molecular target for new treatments. Expression of a previously unknown form of a key such potassium channel was found to be 2.5 fold higher than normal in the brain memory hub of people with the chronic mental illness and linked to a hotspot of genetic variation. An extensive series of experiments suggests that selectively inhibiting this suspect form could help correct disorganized brain activity in schizophrenia — without risk of cardiac side effects associated with some existing antipsychotic medications. Scientists at the National Institutes of Health and European colleagues report on threads of converging evidence in the May 2009 issue of the journal Nature Medicine.

 

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