Theoretical Physics

14 December 2016
Time: 15:00 to 16:00
Location: EC Stoner 8.60

Theoretical Physics Seminar: Michelle Sahai (Roehampton)

Exploring a Common Thread between Addiction and Disease: The Dopamine Transporter

Dopamine neurotransmission has been the subject of research for nearly half a century. However, it was not until the late eighties, when it was implicated with the reinforcing effects of cocaine, that the dopamine transporter (DAT) was identified as a potential target for pharmacological treatments of cocaine abuse. Despite intensive pharmacological investigations, no effective pharmacotherapy for cocaine abuse has demonstrated efficacy for long-term use, but tremendous scientific advances have been made toward understanding DAT and its role in a variety of neurological disease states and disorders. This includes Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and drug abuse.

With the aid of molecular modelling methods and molecular dynamics simulations we aim to assess novel psychoactive substances (NPS) as potential treatments for the stimulant effects of cocaine in DAT. The results that characterise the stimulant potential of the screened NPS will be compared with those derived from the so-far used experimental techniques, such as autoradiography and voltammetry. The present study demonstrates the benefits of combining computational methods of biophysics with neurobiological procedures by providing novel insights into the structural determinants of NPS at DAT and reconciling them with their functional properties at DAT as the molecular target of stimulants.



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