May 09, 2007

Possible Schizophrenia Treatment Identified (SUMO)

Read more... Schizophrenia Biology

British researchers have revealed in a new study that increasing the amount of small protein called "SUMO" in the brain may eventually be valuable for treating brain disorders such as schizophrenia and epilepsy (though any future drugs based on this new research would be a number of years away).

Brain nerve cells called synapses pass information that manages brain function though types of proteins called receptors. This function is supposed to be the foundation for learning and memory.

n a healthy brain, synapses can modify how efficiently they work, by increasing or decreasing the amount of information transmitted.

Having too much information is a problem, but so is having too little which can cause conditions including coma.

The study led by Professor Jeremy Henley discovered that when kainate receptor gets a chemical signal, the protein, SUMO, pulls the receptor out of synapse, preventing any information from reaching it and stops the cells from getting overly excited. "over-excitement" is characteristic of many conditions which affect the brain.

“This work is important because it gives a new perspective and a deeper understanding of how the flow of information between cells in the brain is regulated. It is possible that increasing the amount of SUMO attached to kainate receptors – which would reduce communication between the cells – could be a way to treat epilepsy by preventing over-excitation,” Nature quoted Henley, as saying.

The discovery can lead the development of treatment for brain conditions that has too much synapses activity.

Read More: 'Sumo' offers brain disease hope (BBC)

Source Journal Source: Nature: Neuroscience: Wrestling with SUMO


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