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Findings that should speed the development of drugs for Parkinson's disease
Date:11/18/2009

more likely or less likely that a neurotransmitter will be released, but it can't guarantee release. For example, it becomes more likely that a neurotransmitter will be released in a nerve pathway that is used a lot."

Neurotransmitters are small molecules that are released from one nerve cell and which act on the next nerve cell. Some are excitatory, some inhibitory, some modulatory. Dopamine is a modulator. In other words, it smooths out the ups and downs of a nerve cell, effectively telling it 'not to get over excited', or 'not to get over inhibited'. All the inputs add up, and if a nerve cell gets enough plusses, it fires an impulse.

According to Vissel, we are still in the dark ages in understanding the sub-microscopic events that take place in the brain. "We have roughly 100 billion nerve cells in our brains, with up to 100,000 connections each. We're only just beginning to understand that every connection is regulated in the most extraordinarily sophisticated way," he explained.

"The surprising thing is that out of all this irregularity and complexity comes predictable or reliable function. Most of us can catch a ball that is thrown to us without dropping it, for example. When you think about the millions of nerve cell events in that simple act alone, it's remarkable. Unfortunately, in Parkinson's disease this phenomenal ability to regulate movement is lost".

"Our work involved developing sophisticated statistical analysis protocols and mathematical models of synapses, and it helps de-mystify the part of the process that takes place at the dopamine nerve cell synapse. We believe it will help us work out how drugs currently being used to treat Parkinson's Disease are regulating dopamine release. It will also open up new avenues for pharmaceutical development."


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Contact: Alison Heather
a.heather@garvan.org.au
61-292-958-128
Research Australia
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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