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Monday, 16 November, 2009

Membrane channels in the spotlight

Illumination activates compounds with therapeutic potential

Proteins that can switch between closed and open states control the passage of electrically charged ions across cell membranes, and are responsible for the generation and propagation of nerve impulses. Chemicals that influence the structural state of such ion channels, and thus perturb neural activity, find use as psychoactive drugs and as anaesthetics. In the latest issue of the international edition of Angewandte Chemie, Professor Dirk Trauner of LMU Munichs Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, together with colleagues at the University of California in Berkeley, describes a new type of molecule that activates so-called voltage-gated potassium channels when exposed to light of a certain colour. These molecules could have therapeutic potential in the treatment of some forms of blindness and other diseases. (Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Vol. 48, Issue 48, 16. November 2009) (...)


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