6.5 C
New York
Sunday, July 25, 2021

Omega 3 could hold key for delivering drugs to the brain

Must Read

Kamal Saini
Kamal S. has been Journalist and Writer for Business, Hardware and Gadgets at Revyuh.com since 2018. He deals with B2b, Funding, Blockchain, Law, IT security, privacy, surveillance, digital self-defense and network policy. As part of his studies of political science, sociology and law, he researched the impact of technology on human coexistence. Email: kamal (at) revyuh (dot) com

A recent Columbia University study showing detailed images of a molecule that transports Omega 3 fatty acids to the brain could open a pathway for neurological drugs to enter brain structures.

One of the main challenges in treating neurological diseases is getting drugs through the blood-brain barrier, a tightly packed layer of cells that lines blood vessels in the brain and blocks the entry of pathogens, toxins, and some nutrients. Unfortunately, this layer also blocks many drugs that could treat disorders of the neurological system.

“We’ve managed to obtain a three-dimensional structure of the transporter protein that provides a gateway for omega-3s to enter the brain. In this structure, we can see how omega-3s bind to the transporter. This information may allow for the design of drugs that mimic omega-3s to hijack this system and get into the brain,” says one of the study’s authors, Dr. Rosemary J. Cater.

Essential nutrients, such as Omega 3s, require the help of specific carrier proteins that recognize them and make them pass through this barrier.

“The transporters are like bouncers at a club, only letting molecules with invites or backstage passes in,” explains Cater.

The transporter – or guard – a protein that allows Omega 3s to enter is called MFSD2A and is the focus of the research.

Understanding what MFSD2A looks like and how it pulls omega-3s across the blood-brain barrier may provide us with the information we need to design drugs that can trick this bouncer and gain entry passes.

To visualize MFSD2A, the researcher used a technique called single-particle cryoelectron microscopy.

“The beauty of this technique is that we’re able to see the shape of the transporter with details down to a fraction of a billionth of a meter,” says study co-director Dr. Filippo Mancia.

For this analysis, the protein molecules are suspended in a thin layer of ice under an electron microscope. Powerful cameras take millions of images of proteins from countless angles can then be pieced together to build a 3D map.

From this map, the researchers can build a 3D model of the protein, placing each atom in its place.

“It reminds me of solving a jigsaw puzzle,,” explains Mancia.

This technique has become in recent years a very powerful tool for visualizing biological molecules.

“Our structure shows that MFSD2A has a bowl-like shape and that omega-3s bind to a specific side of this bowl,” explains Cater. 

The bowl is upside down and faces the inside of the cell, but this is just a single 3D snapshot of the protein, which in real life has to move to transport the omega-3s. To understand exactly how it works, we need either multiple different snapshots or, better yet, a movie of the transporter in motion.

To understand what these movements might look like, a second co-director of the study, Dr. George Khelashvili, used a 3D model of the protein as a starting point for computer simulations that revealed how the transporter moves and how it adapts its shape to release the Omega 3 in the brain.

A third co-director of the project, Dr. David Silver, together with his team tested and confirmed the hypotheses derived from the explained structure and the simulations of the operation of the MFSD2A. That allowed him to highlight the specific parts of the protein that are important.

Now the team is investigating how the transporter first recognizes Omega 3s from the bloodstream.

“Our study has already given us tremendous insight into how MFSD2A delivers omega-3s to the brain, and we are really excited to see where our results lead to,” says Cater.

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Latest News

Study reveals the harmful side effect of fasting

When do you go on fasting, both religiously and as a personal choice? If that's the case, you may...
- Advertisement -

More Articles Like This

- Advertisement -