Genetic blueprint for Key Brain Protein Found

From: Nature, International weekly journal of Science

Scientists have found genetic blueprints for a protein that plays a key role in communication between brain cells.

That could help them develop new drugs for treating a variety of problems, including depression, epilepsy, pain, schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease, said Tage Honore, head of nervous system research at Novartis Pharma Inc. in Basel, Switzerland.

Scientists from Novartis report their work in the March 20, 1997 issue of the journal Nature.

The blueprints tell the body how to make two versions of the GABA-B receptor. Many brain cells send squirts of the substance GABA to each other as one way to communicate. The GABA-B receptor is one of the structures that GABA grabs to exert its effects, either on the cell that releases the GABA or another cell.

The drug baclofen, used to treat spasticity, also grabs onto the GABA-B receptor. The new work should help scientists find other drugs that target various versions of the receptor.

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