New York: In a ray of hope for people suffering from the largely incurable Alzheimer's disease, scientists have stumbled upon an inhibitory neurotransmitter that could be new target for Alzheimer's drugs.
The discovery has the potential for development as a novel diagnostic tool for Alzheimer's disease, which is the most common form of dementia and one for which no cure has yet been found.
"The research in our lab is now focused on finding new drug targets and on developing new approaches for diagnosing and treating Alzheimer's disease," said lead researcher Gong Chen, a professor of biology at Penn State University.
Researchers recently discovered an abnormally high concentration of one inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brains of deceased Alzheimer's patients.
He and his team found the neurotransmitter, called GABA, in deformed cells called "reactive astrocytes" in a structure in the core of the brain called the dentate gyrus.
Chen's team found that the GABA neurotransmitter was drastically increased in the deformed versions of the normally large, star-shaped "astrocyte" cells.
"The excessively high concentration of the GABA neurotransmitter in these reactive astrocytes is a novel biomarker that we hope can be targeted in further research as a tool for the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's disease," Chen concluded.
The findings are published in the journal Nature Communications.