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Birgit Schiøtt receives two grants for the study of neurotransmitters

The Serotonergic Synapse and Modeling the Dopamine Transporter are projects aiming to increase the understanding of the neurotransmitters, which will advance the development of new drugs.

The Danish Council for Independent Research (FSS) will fund The Serotonergic Synapse: Multimodal Drugs at the Molecular Level to improve the understanding of the structural basis for drug modulation of signaling in the brain by the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT). Specifically, the molecular structure of all serotonin binding pockets present across serotonergic synapses by use of an interdisciplinary approach that integrates expertise in computational and medicinal chemistry, molecular pharmacology and biophysics, located at Aarhus University (AU) and University of Copenhagen (UC) in close collaboration with leading international experts at University of Sydney (US) and University of Erlangen-Nürnberg (UEN). Expecting to improve therapeutic profiles over current serotonergic drug therapies.

Modeling the Dopamine Transporter – Dopamine, Inhibitor and Cholesterol Binding and their Influence on Dynamics will receive funds from The Danish Council for Independent Research (FNU). The dopamine transporter (DAT), which belongs to the neurotransmitter sodium symporter (NSS) family. Dysregulation of the NSSs is associated with several debilitating disorders including depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), epilepsy, and Parkinson’s disease. The structure of Drosophila melanogaster DAT was determined in September 2013, and provides a new basis for hDAT modelling.  Taking advantage of the group’s world-leading position in NSS-modelling, binding of dopamine and inhibitors to DAT can be explored in atomic detail. Aiming to unravel differences in conformational dynamics in response to ligand binding and interactions with cholesterol in the membrane – knowledge of which has extreme importance for designing novel NSS-drugs