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New protein could unravel the causes of epilepsy, other brain disorders

Neurological conditions, such as epilepsy and schizophrenia, are thought to be caused by synaptic imbalances. Thomas Jefferson University scientists have found a molecule that may shed light on how these imbalances happen and improve the understanding of these conditions.

Synapses can be excitatory or inhibitory—they either allow nerve impulses to pass from neuron to neuron, or they “dampen” the signal. An imbalance renders the brain unable to process information normally, which can lead to epilepsy and other conditions.

The Jefferson team unearthed a molecule, LRP4, that plays a role in creating excitatory synapses, according to a statement. Blocking the gene that makes LRP4 reduced the number of excitatory synapses in fruit flies by 40%. It did not affect inhibitory synapses. The results are published in eLife.

Because fruit flies and their…

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