NMDA receptors are saddled with an unwieldy name, but they are some of the most important* signaling molecules in the brain, both for learning and memory and in neurological and psychiatric diseases.
Kasper Hansen, a postdoc from Stephen Traynelis’ lab who is establishing his own at the University of Montana, is lead author on a recent paper in Neuron, which could spur research on NMDA receptors’ pharmacological properties.
The NMDA receptors in the brain are actually mix-and-match assemblies of four subunits, and most of the time in the brain, three different proteins come together to make one receptor, the authors explain. In the laboratory, it has been easier to study simpler, more homogenous, but also more artificial constructs. Hansen and his colleagues developed a way to build replicas of the more complicated NMDA receptors found in the brain and probe their distinct responses to drugs. Read more
A clinical trial testing a therapy for children with fragile X syndrome is closing down, after the sponsoring company announced that the drug, called arbaclofen, was not meeting its goals.
Readers of Emory Health magazine may remember Samuel McKinnon, an arbaclofen study participant who was featured in a 2012 article and video (below).
â€œWe were surprised,â€ Samuelâ€™s mother Wendy told us Monday. â€œBut we knew going in that there were no guarantees.â€
She reports that Samuel has made significant progress in the last couple of years. He likes playing and talking with the family’s new puppy, Biscuit. Samuel’s language skills have Ray Ban outlet blossomed and he will be headed to second grade this fall. But itâ€™s hard to say whether thatâ€™s mainly because of the experimental drug or because Samuel has been continuing to grow and work hard in school and in therapy, she says.
A sizable fraction of patients in the study appeared to benefit from the drug, just not the majority of them, says Emory genetics chair Steve Warren.