Scientists in New York have recently come up with a new tool with the help of which one can modify the brain activity and memory in certain ways. This does not involve the intake of any kind of chemicals or drugs.
This is basically a protein which can be set in animal genomes so as to shut their inhibitory synapses and the link between neurons that augments their electrical activity.
Don Arnold, a professor at the University of Southern California shared that this protein termed as the GFE3 protein can enable the researchers to gauge the brain’s connection and analyse how inhibitory synapses transform the brain function. “GFE3 harnesses a little known and remarkable property of proteins within the brain,” he added. This may even help them manage neural activity and result in the advancements in the research for medical conditions such as schizophrenia, cocaine addiction and the likes.
Most of the brain proteins last just for a few days and then begin to degrade and are gradually replaced by the new ones. GFE3 aims towards those proteins that clasp inhibitory synapses together to the degradation system owing to which the synapses fall apart. This way instead of a cell deciding as to when a protein is to be degraded the process is hijacked. The protein’s impact has been studies on zebrafish and mice.
It has been found that the GFE3 protein prompts the neurons on two sides of the spine so they work in opposition and bring about uncoordinated movements. “Unfortunately, cells that have very different, even opposite functions tend to be right next to each other in the brain,” said Arnold.
“Thus, pharmacological experiments are especially difficult to interpret. By encoding GFE3 within the genome, we can target and modulate the inhibitory synapses of specific cells without affecting other cells that have different functions,” Arnold stated further.