Genetic target for treatment of neurodegenerative disorders uncovered

December 11th, 2008 - 4:44 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, December 11 (ANI): Experiments on mice have shown that a gene called FKBP12 may provide a target for drugs to treat conditions like autism spectrum disorder and obsessive-compulsive disease.
Dr. Susan Hamilton, chair of molecular physiology and biophysics at BCM, has found that reducing the activity of this gene in the brains of mice affects neuron-to-neuron communication, and increases both fearful memory and obsessive behaviour.
The researcher says that the protein FKBP12 regulates several important cell-signalling pathways, and decreasing its activity enhances long-term potentiation in the hippocampus.
According to Hamilton, it accomplishes this by fine-tuning a particular pathway called mTOR signalling (mammalian target of rapamycin).
During the study, the researchers observed that the mice in whose brains the activity of the gene was reduced had longer memories, and were more likely to exhibit repetitive behaviours than normal mice.
“These studies may offer insight into the molecular underpinnings of repetitive behaviours such as those seen in autism spectrum disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, schizophrenia and other neurodegenerative disorders,” said Hamilton.
“Because these studies involved interrupting the mTOR signaling after birth, they challenge the idea that some aspects of these conditions are developmentally predetermined,” the researcher added.
The study has been published in the journal Neuron. (ANI)

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