Newly Discovered Communication Method Between Neurons Could Help Neurodegenerative Disease Treatment

Mar 03, 2017 10:46 AM EST

Neurons play a key role in how the brain and the body work. These cells form connections with one another to make sure we get sensations and our bodily functions are according to order. Scientists from the University of Bristol in the U.K. have discovered another kind of "connection" between neurons.

According to Science Alert, Jeremy Henley from the University of Bristol discovered a new kind of synapse relationship between neurons that has not been discovered before.

Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and epilepsy happen when these synapses are weakened. This is why scientists try to strengthen the information flow of the brain through LTP or long-term potentiation, which is the best-known method of strengthening the brain's synapses to date.

LTP identifies the connections between these cells and how they correlate to one another. Too much of them can lead to epilepsy, while too less can lead to dementia.

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LTPs function when NMDA receptors, special proteins, are activated. However, the recently discovered open a new kind of LTP -- and it's regulated in ways that haven't been thought of before. Henley's team discovered that this new LTP mechanism is controled by kainate receptors instead of NMDA receptors.

Read Also: This Protein Could Help in Treating Neurodegenerative Diseases 

According to the study, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, in the past, kainate receptors have not been thought of contributing to the entire neurological make-up of the human brain.

Milos Petrovic from the University of Central Lancashire said that the new discovery will help in solving the mystery of how neurons are connected and how the brain works as a whole.

The human brain has 100 billion nerve cells, which influence brain and body functions. Of the 100 billion, there are at least 10,000 synapses in each nerve cell.

Understanding these synapses will open a lot of doors to just how exactly the body functions.The new discovery of Henley gives way to further research on new treatment for neurodegenerative diseases.

Read Also: New Risk Index Shows Promising Results in Predicting Dementia in Older Adults  

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