New research published in the journal Nature for the first time reveals the atomic structure of a key molecular component of the nervous system.
Scientists at OHSU used advanced imaging techniques to ascertain the resting state of an acid-sensing ion channel. “They are really important ion channels that are spread throughout the body,” said senior author Eric Gouaux, Ph.D., senior scientist with the OHSU Vollum Institute and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. “People have pursued them as targets for stroke therapies, and they clearly have important roles in pain transduction.”
Ion channels create tiny openings in the membrane of cells throughout the body, allowing the transmission of signals in the nervous system. Acid-sensing ion channels are believed to play a role in pain sensation as well as psychiatric disorders. OHSU scientists expect the basic science research will spur new research and development into therapeutic agents targeting the channel.