Brain Protein Linked to Mental Retardation

Finding could lead to new drugs for the condition

FRIDAY, Feb. 21, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- A brain protein called WAVE-1 may play a key role in mental retardation, say researchers at Oregon Health and Science University.

The research, conducted in mice, may provide information to help scientists better understand mental retardation and to develop new drugs or therapies to counter the condition.

The study appears in this week's issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

WAVE-1 is found throughout the brain and plays an important role in brain cell communication.

The researchers produced mice lacking WAVE-1. Those mice had balance, motor, learning and memory problems. The symptoms in the mice without WAVE-1 correlate with one form of human mental retardation.

The researchers believe the absence of the WAVE-1 protein causes a partial breakdown of the brain cell communication system. That results in reduced learning ability and other problems associated with mental retardation.

A major conclusion from the study is that mental retardation involves many more areas of the brain than first expected.

More Information

Here's where you can learn more about mental retardation.

SOURCE: Oregon Health and Science University, news release, February 2003
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