Human protein plays surprise role in cell control, may help seizures

Australian study links protein to seizure hope

11 Apr 2024 04:02pm
Photo for illustration purposes only. - 123RF
Photo for illustration purposes only. - 123RF

CANBERRA - A protein found in the human body could be used to treat diseases that cause seizures, according to an Australian study, said Xinhua.

The study, which was published by researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) recently, examined a force-sensing mechanical protein that enables the brain to interpret forces such as touch and sound.

The team found that a better understanding of the protein could help treat diseases such as hypomyelination, a condition whereby the body does not produce myelin at normal levels, making it hard for the brain to send nerve impulses and causing severe developmental delays and epileptic seizures.

Myelin is an insulating layer, or sheath, that forms around nerves, including the brain and spinal cord, that allows electrical impulses to transmit quickly.

Ben Corry, a co-author of the study from the ANU Research School of Biology, said that researchers discovered that the particular force-sensing protein behaves differently from other mechanical proteins.

He said in a media release that when a cell membrane senses a change in force from the protein and opens a pore to signal the change to the brain, the membrane helps control what goes in and out of cells -- a discovery Corry described as unheard of in humans.

"Our experiments showed how and what can go in and out of the cell can be altered by changing the membrane, not the protein molecule itself," he said.

The team believes that the discovery could have direct medical implications, including finding ways to treat hypomyelination by controlling what can go in and out of a cell, and contribute to the development of salt-tolerance in plants that have an almost identical force sensor.

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After conducting the study on healthy cells the researchers will next examine what is happening on the cellular level to people with poor myelination of neurons. - BERNAMA-XINHUA