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Dr. Mei honored by mental health research charity for schizophrenia studies
Date:4/24/2008

tor. They arent clinical-grade but have helped him illustrate what happens when neuregulin-1 activity goes up or down. One of his many goals is to identify small molecules, which are soluble, deliverable and would similarly manipulate neuregulin function. You would hope they would be like aspirin: easily deliverable to the brain, says Dr. Mei.

Neuregulin-1 actually has about six known types, and type I is expressed in higher levels in the pre-frontal cortex of schizophrenics, the portion of the brain critical to cognition, learning and working memory. That 2004 finding by National Institute of Mental Health scientists shifted the focus toward type I and Dr. Mei toward development of an animal model that also expresses high levels of type I neuregulin. Most studies, including his, use models in which the genes are knocked out.

Knockout models do not mimic what is going on in the patient, says Dr. Mei. A recent $514,000, three-year grant from the National Institute of Mental Health grant will enable him to develop a mouse that may.

Dr. Mei also recently received a $1.6 million, five-year grant from the institute to further study neuregulin-1s regulation of neurotransmission. He wants to know which transcription factors bind to neuregulin-1 to regulate expression and how they do it. He suspects mutated genes change how much binding occurs and, consequently, how much neuregulin is expressed. He also wants to know exactly how neuregulin-1, in turn, controls GABA release, and, ultimately if the resulting signal the neuron sends is determined by neuregulin-1. His work indicates the protein probably does have a powerful role in determining neuron talk.

Dr. Mei exemplifies the kind of individual we try to single out for the Distinguished Investigator Award: an outstanding scientist, representing the very best in the field, with an important body of work behind him, and currently pursuing innovative and promising research, says Geoff Bi
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Contact: Toni Baker
tbaker@mcg.edu
706-721-4421
Medical College of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert  

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Dr. Mei honored by mental health research charity for schizophrenia studies
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