A new peptide discovery could hold the key to producing new therapies for a certain type of schizophrenia and related psychiatric conditions.
Researchers from the University of Glasgow focused their study on a hereditary form of schizophrenia in which patients are lacking a brain protein called DISC1. This molecule serves as an integral multi-functioning ‘scaffolding’ protein vital to key functions of the brain.
“My colleagues and I decided to look specifically at the DISC1 protein. Our idea was simple: what would happen if we could simply raise the concentration of DISC1 in patients’ brains?,” said lead author George Baillie, Professor of Molecular Pharmacology at the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences, in a statement.
The team found another protein called FBXW7 that targets the DISC1 protein for destruction.
Essentially, the scientists disrupted the interaction between these two proteins with an inhibitory peptide where DISC1 deficiencies could be counteracted.
“We looked at the turnover of DISC1 in the brain and found it was rapidly made and then degraded by brain cells. We thought, if we can stop the natural destruction of DISC1, people with low levels would see it naturally increase. Using our peptide, we can now restore DISC1 concentrations in psychiatric patient derived brain cells back to the levels of control subjects,” continued Baillie.
Baillie elaborated that patients diagnosed with these psychiatric disorders respond inadequately or adversely to the current crop of available medications necessitating the need to develop innovative treatments. He noted that his team is hopeful the peptide becomes a stepping stone toward a specialized therapeutic to fill this gap.
The results from this study were published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
Filed Under: Drug Discovery