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Potential Prognostic Markers and Therapeutic Targets for Neurological Disorders

IB-2601

APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:

  • Developing drug therapies for neurological/psychological diseases such as epilepsy, schizophrenia, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, bipolar disorder, mental retardation, aggression, addiction, mood disorders, and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Screening for neurological diseases
  • Designing assays to identify a set of genes responsible for particular behavioral disorders

ADVANTAGES:

  • Enables  more accurate diagnosis and prognosis of neurological diseases
  • Enables the design of new therapies

ABSTRACT:

Symptoms of neurological disorders are often complex and can arise from a variety of causes, making accurate and timely diagnoses difficult. Determining the appropriate prognosis and therapy for many neurological diseases is hindered by a lack of fundamental understanding of their underlying causes. As a result, drug therapies can involve costly, and sometimes painful, trial-and-error to determine the most effective treatment.

In a groundbreaking study using laboratory mice, researchers from Berkeley Lab have discovered that the removal of a protein belonging to a novel class of gene-regulatory proteins (proteins that control gene expression) from the brain results in the appearance of symptoms associated with various neurological disorders, including seizures, cognitive deficiencies, and aberrant social behaviors such as increased aggression and abnormal fear and anxiety. As the protein is normally expressed in brain regions associated with learning, memory, and emotion, the results strongly suggest that inappropriate levels or abnormal functions of this protein may be caused by altered expression levels, gene mutations, or biochemical modifications of the protein, and may underlie certain cognitive abnormalities in patients with neurological disorders. Significantly, the researchers determined that mice lacking the protein display behaviors that resemble those of mouse models for human neurological disorders such as schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, bipolar disorder, and mood disorders, suggesting that this protein is a key player in regulating proper brain function.

The Berkeley Lab researchers have also found that this new class of regulatory proteins in the brain consists of two highly homologous “family” members. Identifying this class of key regulatory proteins in brain function additionally creates an opportunity to identify potential new tools for the accurate diagnosis and prognosis of neurological diseases and their effective treatment.

STATUS:

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REFERENCE NUMBER: IB-2601

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Last updated: 08/10/2010