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OHSU Vollum Institute research gives new insight into how antidepressants work in the brain
Date:11/8/2013

PORTLAND, Ore. Research from Oregon Health & Science University's Vollum Institute, published in the current issue of Nature, is giving scientists a never-before-seen view of how nerve cells communicate with each other. That new view can give scientists a better understanding of how antidepressants work in the human brain and could lead to the development of better antidepressants with few or no side effects.

The article in today's edition of Nature came from the lab of Eric Gouaux, Ph.D., a senior scientist at OHSU's Vollum Institute and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. The article describes research that gives a better view of the structural biology of a protein that controls communication between nerve cells. The view is obtained through special structural and biochemical methods Gouaux uses to investigate these neural proteins.

The Nature article focuses on the structure of the dopamine transporter, which helps regulate dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is an essential neurotransmitter for the human body's central nervous system; abnormal levels of dopamine are present in a range of neurological disorders, including Parkinson's disease, drug addiction, depression and schizophrenia. Along with dopamine, the neurotransmitters noradrenaline and serotonin are transported by related transporters, which can be studied with greater accuracy based on the dopamine transporter structure.

The Gouaux lab's more detailed view of the dopamine transporter structure better reveals how anti-depressants act on the transporters and thus do their work.

The more detailed view could help scientists and pharmaceutical companies develop drugs that do a much better job of targeting what they're trying to target and not create side effects caused by a broader blast at the brain proteins.

"By learning as much as possible about the structure of the transporter and its complexes with antidepressan
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Contact: Todd Murphy
murphyt@ohsu.edu
503-494-8231
Oregon Health & Science University
Source:Eurekalert

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