By Marisa Sanchez, Molecular and Cellular Biology ’15 SV2A is a synaptic vesicle protein, which participates in the regulation of neurotransmitter release in humans. SV2A is expressed in neurons and endocrine cells. The exact function of SV2A is still unknown, but it has been identified that SV2A is the binding site for the antiepileptic drug, levetiracetam. Levetiracetam reduces presynaptic glutamate release, especially in neurons with high frequency firing. Abnormally enhanced glutamatergic neurotransmission with high frequency neural firing is found in epilepsy and several neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and Huntington’s disease.
By David Ivanov, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, ’15 A group of researchers studying brain cells have found a new potential target for pharmacological therapies that may help treat Alzheimer’s disease. Beta amyloid plaque, which appears to be a toxic build up of fragments of amyloid precursor protein (APP) in the brain, has long been associated with Alzheimer’s disease, and has been one of the major targets for Alzheimer’s treatment. Amyloid precursor protein plays an important role in the brain, and when this protein is broken down in nerve cells the toxic byproduct beta amyloid is formed.