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Computational Models of Neuronal Biophysics and the Characterization of Potential Neuropharmacological Targets

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Abstract:

The identification and characterization of potential pharmacological targets in neurology and psychiatry is a fundamental problem at the intersection between medicinal chemistry and the neurosciences. Exciting new techniques in proteomics and genomics have fostered rapid progress, opening numerous questions as to the functional consequences of ligand binding at the systems level. Psycho- and neuro-active drugs typically work in nerve cells by affecting one or more aspects of electrophysiological activity. Thus, an integrated understanding of neuropharmacological agents requires bridging the gap between their molecular mechanisms and the biophysical determinants of neuronal function. Computational neuroscience and bioinformatics can play a major role in this functional connection. Robust quantitative models exist describing all major active membrane properties under endogenous and exogenous chemical control. These include voltage-dependent ionic channels (sodium, potassium, calcium, etc.), synaptic receptor channels (e.g. glutamatergic, GABAergic, cholinergic), and G protein coupled signaling pathways (protein kinases, phosphatases, and other enzymatic cascades). This brief review of neuromolecular medicine from the computational perspective provides compelling examples of how simulations can elucidate, explain, and predict the effect of chemical agonists, antagonists, and modulators in the nervous system.

Keywords: Computational Models; agonists; electrophysiological activity; genomics; ionic channels; nervous system; neurology; proteomics; synaptic receptor channels

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2174/092986708785909094

Affiliations: Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, George Mason University, 4400 University Drive, MS 2A1, Fairfax, Virginia 22030-4444 (USA).

Publication date: October 1, 2008

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  • Current Medicinal Chemistry covers all the latest and outstanding developments in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design. Each issue contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of the current topics in medicinal chemistry. Current Medicinal Chemistry is an essential journal for every medicinal chemist who wishes to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.
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