Controlling transmitter glutamate
1. Disorders afflicting the nervous system account for more hospitalizations,
more long-term care, and more chronic suffering than nearly all other
disorders combined (Cowan
and Kandel, 2001). The emotional and economic losses are enormous.
2. Effective treatment is mostly unavailable, and prevention is difficult
due to insufficient understanding of the causes.
3. When brain tissue is diseased, complex processes start and nerve cells
often continue to die after the initiating stimulus has stopped.
4. Among the most exciting mechanisms are those controlling extracellular
glutamate. Evidence suggests they play key roles in the disease processes
ultimately leading to the nerve cell damage, disabilities and suffering
(for review see: Danbolt,
mechanisms controlling glutamate are hard to study because glutamate
is involved in so many different and interconnected processes. Glutamate
mediates most of the excitatory (stimulating, activating) signals in the
central nervous system. This does not only include signals involved in
perception, cognition and movements, but also for cell survival, elimination,
migration and differentiation, as well as for synapse formation and elimination.
Further, glutamate affects brain energy consumption, free radical formation,
cell volume and water transport. Whenever brain tissue is studied, it
Strenght: Our group has expertise in the construction
of transgenic animals, membrane protein purification and reconstitution
in artificial cell membranes, neuropharmacology, confocal imaging, electron
microscopy, antibody production, and advanced databasing. We are part
of Norway's largest center of excellence (CMBN)
and have close ties to the other bio-medical center of excellence in Norway
Centre for the Biology
of Memory) and to the Norwegian
Center for Stem Cell Research. We thereby have on site access to expertise
in stem cells, growth factors, in vivo and in vitro electrophysiology,
protein sequencing, animal NMR and PET scans, fibre tracing, 3-D reconstruction,
computational neuroscience, and behavioral testing.