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Discovery & Development Small Molecules, Drug Discovery

Signal Boost

Abnormal NMDA receptor activity is associated with a variety of neuro-psychiatric and neuro-degenerative diseases. Now, Genentech and Gladstone – an independent, non-profit biomedical research organization – are developing a new small molecule drug that increases the activity of NMDA receptors found at the synapses of brain cells as a potential therapy for Alzheimer’s disease and Dravet syndrome.

The compound is part of a new class of experimental drugs, and is considered unique because it enhances the receptors' signals when engaged by neurotransmitters, rather than by directly stimulating the receptors themselves.

“Previously, we haven’t had ideal tools to enhance synaptic NMDA receptors. This research opens up a lot of new possibilities for treating cognitive disorders,” says Jorge Palop, Gladstone Associate Investigator and senior author of the study, which was published in the journal Cell Reports (1).

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  1. J Hanson, et al, “ GluN2A NMDA Receptor Enhancement Improves Brain Oscillations, Synchrony, and Cognitive Functions in Dravet Syndrome and Alzheimer’s Disease Models,” Cell Reports, 30, 381-396.e4 (2020).
About the Author
Maryam Mahdi

Deputy Editor

After finishing my degree, I envisioned a career in science communications. However, life took an unexpected turn and I ended up teaching abroad. Though the experience was amazing and I learned a great deal from it, I jumped at the opportunity to work for Texere. I'm excited to see where this new journey takes me!

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