New perspective on brain function now possible

May 28, 2007

A newly started research collaboration between Karolinska Institutet and AstraZeneca has already generated results. For the first time, the conditions have been created to study one of the brain's most important neurotransmission systems – the glutamate system – in living people.

Glutamate is one of the most common neurotransmitters in the human brain and is involved in virtually all brain functions. But even though researchers' PET cameras can produce images of other important neurotransmission systems, such as the dopamine and serotonin systems, until now it has not been possible to capture images of the glutamate system. This is because there has not been any suitable tracer that can bind specifically to the receptors in the glutamate system.

In collaboration with Karolinska Institutet, AstraZeneca has now developed such a tracer, which makes it possible for the first time to study the glutamate system in the brains of living people.

"The glutamate system is an area of keen interest for research, especially for gaining an understanding of neuropsychiatric disorders," says Professor Lars Farde at Karolinska Institutet and AstraZeneca. "All anti-psychotic medicines currently available on the market work via the dopamine system, for example. However, it may well turn out that glutamate receptors are even better drug targets."

Within the framework of this same collaboration, a state-of-the-art PET camera has been purchased for use in both academic research and pharmaceutical development.

"The new PET camera will allow us to study the brain with a much higher richness of detail than previously," comments Professor Christer Halldin of Karolinska Institutet. "And thanks to the new tracer, we will be able to explore an entirely new neurotransmission system through high-resolution imaging."

Source: Karolinska Institutet

Explore further: When silencing phantom noises is a matter of science

Related Stories

Resistance to antidepressants linked to metabolism

July 25, 2016

Often, clinical depression has company; it shows up in the brain alongside metabolic abnormalities, such as elevated blood sugar, in the body. While studying an experimental antidepressant in rats, Rockefeller University ...

Recommended for you

Natural compound reduces signs of aging in healthy mice

October 27, 2016

Much of human health hinges on how well the body manufactures and uses energy. For reasons that remain unclear, cells' ability to produce energy declines with age, prompting scientists to suspect that the steady loss of efficiency ...

A metabolic switch to turn off obesity

October 27, 2016

You've tried all the diets. No matter: you've still regained the weight you lost, even though you ate well and you exercised regularly! This may be due to a particular enzyme in the brain: the alpha/beta hydrolase domain-6 ...

Scientists develop 'world-first' 3-D mammary gland model

October 27, 2016

A team of researchers from Cardiff University and Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute has succeeded in creating a three-dimensional mammary gland model that will pave the way for a better understanding of the mechanisms ...

Mitochondria control stem cell fate

October 27, 2016

What happens in intestinal epithelial cells during a chronic illness? Basic research conducted at the Chair of Nutrition and Immunology at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) addressed this question by generating a new ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.