A new study that was published in the August 10 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry may have discovered a new way to study a critical neurotransmitter in some disorders like epilepsy.
This study was conducted by Gong Chen, an associate professor of biology at Penn State University. Chen is also looking at other disorders including depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and alcohol addiction. This new study method basically involves molecularly engineering a model synapse, which is how one nerve cell communicated with another. This team’s model synapse is able to control numerous receptors for the neurotransmitter called GABA, which is important in basic chemistry of the brain. It is with this research that scientists are hoping to be able to create alternative and effective prescription medications that will target GABA receptors specifically, and hopefully be far safer for the user.
Current medications used to treat epilepsy include the anti-seizure medication Topamax, which has been linked to birth defects in babies born to mothers that use the drug while pregnant. Some of those birth defects include PPHN, oral clefts, neural tube defects and spina bifida.
Of this study, Chen explained that “the GABA-A receptors are associated with various disorders in which nerve-cell excitability is altered, such as epilepsy and anxiety, and these receptors mediate major inhibition in the brain. Each GABA-A receptor protein is made up of five subunits and there are 19 possible subunits that can combine in various ways to form any single receptor. We focused on a particular group of subunits called Alpha, and how changing these tiny subunits might affect the GABA-A receptor’s location on the cell membrane.”
If the results of this study prove effective at helping to create safer drug alternatives to Topamax for epileptic patients, women and their offspring will certainly reap the benefits. For this reason alone, Chen’s research team certainly appears to be on the right track.
If your baby was born with birth defects after in-utero exposure to Topamax, contact attorney Greg Jones today for a free consultation. I am experienced at fighting Topamax lawsuits and may be able to help you recover money for your child’s injuries.