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New piece to the puzzle of brain function
Date:8/19/2011

Researchers at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen have collaborated with the company NeuroSearch to generate new knowledge about an important part of the brain's complex communication system. The discovery could form the basis for future development of better medicines for patients with psychiatric disorders. The results were recently published Journal of Neuroscience.

New piece to the puzzle of brain functionNew knowledge challenges established scientific ideas about the function of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, which play an important role in the health of the brain. As its name suggests, the class of receptors is significant for the effects of nicotine and is linked to addiction however, life-threatening conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease are also linked to the electrical impulses that are mediated by nicotinic acetylcholine receptors.

"Brain function is a gigantic puzzle, and one could say that we have found and documented a new and important piece. Within the family of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors exist various subtypes. We show in short that on the most common subtype there are no less than three binding sites instead of the two which science has hitherto known," says Associate Professor Thomas Balle, an associate professor at the Department of Medicinal Chemistry, University of Copenhagen. Balle has, in collaboration with Postdoctoral Fellow Kasper Harpse and researchers at the company NeuroSearch, discovered the previously unexplored corner of the otherwise well-known receptor.

"The results are first and foremost interesting from a basic scientific point of view. We change the entire conceptual understanding of the receptor, so to speak, and it appears to be a general mechanism that applies across the receptor family. We are expanding the foundation of knowledge in this area, as it were," Balle says.

"At the same time the new binding site
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Contact: Thomas Balle
tb@farma.ku.dk
453-533-6409
University of Copenhagen
Source:Eurekalert

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