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MDC researchers develop new tool to investigate ion channels
Date:2/10/2010

s soluble neurotoxins have greatly helped in the characterization of ion channels and receptors because of their ability to specifically bind and inhibit these channels. However, soluble neurotoxins can only be applied for limited time, and their activity cannot be directed to specific cells.

Sebastian Auer, Annika S. Strzebecher and Dr. Ibaez-Tallon managed to circumvent this problem with genetic engineering. Using lentiviruses they developed a shuttle to deliver the genes of cone snail and spider toxins into the neurons. The result: The neurons now long-lastingly produce toxins which directly bind to the calcium ion channels the researchers want to investigate. This was the first step the targeted and long-lasting binding of the toxins to a specific ion channel in the cell culture.

Secondly, the researchers were able to demonstrate that with their tool they can also express toxin genes in animals in a targeted way and also lastingly characterize ion channels. In transgenic mice they were able to block certain calcium ion channels with their toxins and thus block chronic pain.


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Contact: Barbara Bachtler
bachtler@mdc-berlin.de
49-309-406-3896
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Source:Eurekalert  

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