AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 3, 2018

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Researchers Solve Structure of Major Brain Receptor That Is Treatment Target for Epilepsy and Anxiety

UT Southwestern researchers today published the first atomic structure of a brain receptor bound to a drug used to reverse anesthesia and to treat sedative overdoses.

“This study reveals the first high-resolution structural information for one of the most abundant and important neurotransmitter receptors in the brain,” said Dr. Ryan Hibbs, corresponding author of the study and Assistant Professor of Neuroscience and Biophysics with the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute at UT Southwestern. “We are tremendously excited about it.”

Many drugs – both legal and illegal – work on the GABAA receptor. Particularly well-known are the benzodiazepines, which are used for anesthesia during surgery and prescribed to treat epilepsy, anxiety, and insomnia, he said, adding that solving the structure of the receptor could someday lead to better treatments for those conditions.

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