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Researchers Discover New Class of Highly Effective Inhibitors ‘NMDA Receptor’ to Protect Against Neurodegeneration

Feb, 2021

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According to a new study led by the Neurobiologists of Heidelberg University have reported to discover a new class of highly effective inhibitors that safeguards nerve cells, indicating that this can be perspective to fight against untreatable diseases of the nervous system. Researchers revealed that they focused on NMDA receptor, which is an ion channel protein and is activated by neurotransmitter glutamate (a biochemical messenger). Furthermore, researchers also suggested that glutamate-activated NMDA receptors that are positioned in the junctions of the nerve cells plays an important role in learning, memory processes, and neuroprotection. However, NMDA receptors that are found outside of synapses (extra-synaptic NMDA) can lead to cell death, if they are activated, whereas glutamate-activated NMDA receptors within the neuronal junctions create a protective shield, outside synapses.

In this study, experiments were performed on mouse models, and researchers explained that the NMDA receptors that are found outside synapses create a ‘death complex with another ion channel protein, called as TRPM4. TRPM4 is associated with several functions in the body such as immune responses and in the cardiovascular system. In the study, researchers confirmed that TRPM4 confers toxic properties on extra-synaptic NMDA receptors.

Researchers also reported that new class of inhibitors, NMDA receptors or 'interface inhibitors' destroys the bond that is created at the interaction surfaces between the extra-synaptic NMDA receptors and TRPM4, and prove its efficiency in protecting nerve cells.

Prof. Bading, stated, “We're working with a completely new principle for therapeutic agents here. The interface inhibitors give us a tool that can selectively remove the toxic properties of extra-synaptic NMDA receptors. However, their possible approval as pharmaceutical drugs for human use will take several more years because the new substances must first successfully pass through a number of preclinical and clinical testing phases.”

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