How decisions are made and how behavior is controlled is one of the most important questions in neuroscience. The neurotransmitter dopamine plays a central role in all of this. Scientists looked into the role that dopamine plays in the decision-making process and in controlling movement.
Researchers have discovered that a single treatment to inhibit a gene called PTB in mice converts native astrocytes, brain support cells, into neurons that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine. As a result, the mice's Parkinson's disease symptoms disappear.
Scientists have developed a computational protein design approach, and used it to obtain the first ever high-resolution structure of an activated dopamine receptor in its natural cell membrane environment. The breakthrough will open up a new dimension in drug discovery for Parkinson's disease and perhaps other disorders.