The brain might be the most complicated object in existence, because it is, but we're working our way in one scientific step at a time. Scientists have scanned the structure of a vital neurological transmitter, blueprinting one more cog in the vast ticking mechanism that makes mankind possible.
The glutamate receptor GluA2 enables communication between neurons, opening an ion channel for charged particles to flow along nervous system connections. Errors in this essential process are known to play a part in epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease. A greater understanding of the protein could help prevent these problems.
We've actually advanced to the point where such steps forward can be carried out by anyone with the expertise and equipment to do the work: X-ray crystallography, the same process used to discover DNA's distinctive double helix. But turning something into a crystal and bombarding it with X-rays is actually a lot of work, to say nothing of the incredible computations required to reverse-engineer the scattered radiation into shape data.
Sobolevsky, Rosconi and Gouaux are to be commended for this major contribution. Such analysis is incredibly labor intensive and arms others to make the breakthroughs which will earn further credit - be they medical or mental.
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