Join CafeMom Today! Autism Spectrum Disorder: Treatments: Scientists Discover "Thunder" Protein -May potentially result in new treatments for autism

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Scientists Discover "Thunder" Protein -May potentially result in new treatments for autism

Scientists Discover "Thunder" Protein That Regulates Memory Formation

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have discovered in mice a molecular wrecking ball that powers the demolition phase of a cycle that occurs at synapses those specialized connections between nerve cells in the brain and whose activity appears critical for both limiting and enhancing learning and memory.

The newly revealed protein, which the researchers named thorase after Thor, the Norse god of thunder, belongs to a large family of enzymes that energize not only neurological construction jobs but also deconstruction projects. The discovery is described in the April 15 issue of Cell.

"Thorase is vital for keeping in balance the molecular construction-deconstruction cycle we believe is required for memory formation," explains Valina Dawson, professor of neurology and neuroscience in the Johns Hopkins Institute of Cell Engineering. "It's a highly druggable target, which, depending on whether you enhance or inactivate it, may potentially result in new treatments for autism, PTSD, and memory dysfunction."


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