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Scientists reveal gene clue to brain disorders

New ways of treating dozens of brain disorders could soon emerge from a pioneering study of the make-up of vital microscopic gaps between nerve cells that control all brain functions.

Scientists announced yesterday that they have identified more than a thousand proteins and their related genes which are involved in transmitting electrical messages from one nerve cell to another across the tiny gaps of the brain's many billions of synapses — switches that control brain activity.

The researchers said the feat could be compared to the deciphering of the human genome, because knowing the genetic make-up of the synapses will lead to important new insights into the nature of many brain disorders that have so far defied adequate scientific explanation.

The study identified 1,461 proteins and their genes that make up the so-called “post-synaptic density” of chemicals that control the transmission of each electrical message from one nerve cell to another.

The scientists also found that these proteins could be linked with 130 brain diseases, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

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