Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Undergrad’s Work Details Protein’s Role in Neurological Disorders

15.02.2012
Student and Prof Study Suspected Link to Hyper-Excitability Factors in Epilepsy, Autism and More

A UT Dallas undergraduate’s research is revealing new information about a key protein’s role in the development of epilepsy, autism and other neurological disorders. This work could one day lead to new treatments for the conditions.

Senior neuroscience student Francisco Garcia has worked closely with Dr. Marco Atzori, associate professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS), on several papers that outline their findings about interleukin 6 (IL-6) and hyper-excitability. An article on the project is slated for publication in Biological Psychiatry later this year.

Scientists know that stress elevates the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines (signaling molecules used in intercellular communication) and promotes hyper-excitable conditions within the central nervous system. This hyper-excitability is thought to be a factor in epilepsy, autism and anxiety disorders.

“This finding has the potential to lead to eventual new treatments for epilepsy, anxiety disorders or autism.”

Franciso Garcia,
senior neuroscience student
Garcia and Atzori hypothesized that the protein IL-6 acutely and directly induces hyper-excitability by altering the balance between excitation and inhibition within synaptic communication. In other words, IL-6 is not just present when hyper-excitability occurs in the nervous system. It may actually cause it in some circumstances, Garcia said.

The UT Dallas research team administered IL-6 to rat brain tissue and monitored its synaptic excitability. The brain tissue exhibited higher than normal excitability in their synapses, a symptom that may lead to misfiring of signals in epilepsy and other conditions.

The researchers then injected sgp130 -a novel drug that acts as an IL-6 blocker- into the laboratory animals’ brains. The substance limited excitability and appeared to prevent the conditions that lead to related neurological and psychiatric disorders, Garcia said.

“This finding has the potential to lead to eventual new treatments for epilepsy, anxiety disorders or autism,” Garcia said.

The next stage of his research will involve looking at how IL-6 might affect development of other types of neurological problems. Human trials could follow sometime in the future.

Garcia is a native of Mexico, and he plans to pursue his master’s degree in neuroscience at UT Dallas after finishing his undergraduate studies. He credits the BBS faculty with allowing him to participate in laboratory experiments and expand his research skills.

“The UT Dallas faculty members have been great about giving me the opportunity to learn the techniques of a lab researcher,” he said. “It’s been a great experience to work as an undergraduate with such highly respected scientists as Dr. Atzori and Dr. Michael Kilgard.”

Atzori also praised Garcia’s efforts.

“Francisco has been an intelligent, hard-working and experimentally gifted student who contributed way more than the average undergraduate to the projects of the laboratory,” Atzori said. “I am proud that a fine piece of research with great potential for research and clinical applications has been carried out thanks to his enthusiasm and dedication. Francisco’s work in my laboratory is an example of the achievements possible when an institution like UT Dallas invests in and nurtures its research environment.”

Media Contact:
Emily Martinez, UT Dallas, (972) 883-4335, emily.martinez@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu

Emily Martinez | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utdallas.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>