New View of Human Nerve Cells Opens Door to Potential Drug Targets

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Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute and University of Pennsylvania have found a way to uncover potential drug targets that have so far remained hidden from researchers’ view.

By applying the new method to a type of nerve cell critical to regulating body temperature, the authors found more than 400 “receptors” (structures that bind other molecules, triggering some effect on the cell) responding to neurotransmitters, hormones, and other chemical signals. This represents 20 to 30 times more receptors than previous studies had identified.

The technique, described in detail in a review article in the March 11, 2011 issue of the journal Pharmacology and Therapeutics, may be applied to finding “hidden” receptors in other types of nerve cells, expanding the repertoire of potential drug targets for diseases ranging from schizophrenia to Parkinson’s disease.

“This technique will enable people to uncover many more drug targets,” said Tamas Bartfai, chair of the Department of Molecular and Integrative Neuroscience at Scripps Research. “That may be a game changer for some diseases.”……

The Scripps Research Institute (2011, March 11). New view of human nerve cells opens door to potential drug targets. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 21, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110311131726.htm

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