Indian-Origin Scientist Paves Way For Better Epilepsy Treatments


University of Toronto biologists, including one of Indian origin, have discovered proteins to retune imbalances of neurological disorders like autism, epilepsy and various others like schizophrenia and spectrum disorder.

According to Professor Melanie Woodin, the lead investigator of the study, there is a process known as synapses via which neurons in the brain correspond with other neurons, causing neurons either to excite or inhibit other neurons. He further added that any disproportion among the levels of excitation or inhibition may lead to improper brain function.

A crucial complex of protein has been identified that can regulate the proper correspondence of neurons at cellular level. The major proteins are KCC2 which is essential for inhibitory impulse, whereas the receptor for excitatory transmitter glutamate is GluK2, and Neto 2 protein interface with the other two proteins. All three proteins required for synaptic communication is brought together by this complex.

Vivek Madhavan, lead author of the study, along with other researchers conducted experiments on mice brain and found out that all the three proteins directly interact and control each others’ function.

BLUE NATIVE PAGE proved to be the most successful technique of applying a sensitive gel system for determining native protein complexes in neurons.

As such there is no treatment for epilepsy, and the treatments which are available can only curb its effects. Thus the main focus should be on its prevention.

Source: indian nerve

Stem cell study sheds new light on disease formation

For the first time, researchers have shown that an essential biological process known as protein synthesis can be studied in adult stem cells.

The ground-breaking findings also demonstrate that the precise amount of protein produced by blood-forming stem cells is crucial to their function.

“This finding not only tells us something new about stem cell regulation but also opens up the ability to study differences in protein synthesis between many kinds of cells in the body,” said Sean Morrison, director of the children’s medical centre research institute at University of Toronto.

The discovery measures protein production, a process known as translation, and shows that protein synthesis is not only fundamental to how stem cells are regulated, but also is critical to their regenerative potential.

Different types of blood cells produce vastly different amounts of protein per hour, and stem cells in particular synthesise much less protein than any other blood-forming cells.

“This result suggests that blood-forming stem cells require a lower rate of protein synthesis as compared to other blood-forming cells,” Morrison added.

Researchers applied the findings to a mouse model with a genetic mutation in a component of the ribosome – the machinery that makes proteins – and the rate of protein production was reduced in stem cells by 30 percent.

The scientists also increased the rate of protein synthesis by deleting the tumour-suppressor gene ‘Pten’ in blood-forming stem cells.

In both instances, stem cell function was noticeably impaired.

Together, these observations demonstrate that blood-forming stem cells require a highly regulated rate of protein synthesis – such that increases or decreases in that rate impair stem cell function.

“Many people think of protein synthesis as a housekeeping function, in that it happens behind the scenes in all cells. The reality is that a lot of housekeeping functions are highly regulated,” explained Robert A J Signer, a post-doctoral research fellow in Morrison’s laboratory.

Many diseases, including degenerative diseases and certain types of cancers, are associated with mutations in the machinery that makes proteins.

Discoveries such as this raise the possibility that changes in protein synthesis are necessary for the development of those diseases, said the study published in the journal Nature.

Source: Times of India