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Imbalances in Brain Chemicals

Communication between neurones depends on the balance of naturallyoccurring chemicals – neurotransmitters. • An imbalance in these neurones can result in disorders with physical and mental symptoms. • Neurotransmitters are chemicals that transmit nerve impulses across synapses. Examples: dopamine and serotonin.

Parkinson’s Disease
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This is a disease that involves a loss of dopamine secreting nerve cells in an area of the midbrain called substantia nigra. These dopamine secreting neurones spread through the frontal cortex, brain stem and the spinal cord. Dopamine from these neurones is involved in the control and coordination of movement and emotional responses. So loss in these neurones means low dopamine levels and therefore decrease in the transmission of nerve impulses involved in movement – the motor control is lost! Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease: Tremors (shaking): which is normally the first symptom. Slow movement Stiffness (rigidity) of muscles Depression Poor Balance Sleeping, walking, talking, breathing problems.

. . Therefore no break down of dopamine takes place. This barrier is good because it makes it difficult for the bacteria to cross into the brain and cause infections. controlling the symptoms. Dopamine itself can’t pass the barrier. • • • There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease.These have a similar shape protein to the neurotransmitter dopamine. inserting genes for proteins that increase dopamine production or. . Stem Cell Therapy: 2. This is a problem! • The blood-brain barrier is formed by the endothelial cells that line the capillaries of the brain which are very tightly joined together.Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease Treating diseases means getting drugs across the blood-brain barrier. .These inhibit the enzyme monoamineoxidases which is responsible for breaking down dopamine in the brain. 4.This is done by.It is converted to dopamine once it is in the brain.They are useful because they avoid higher than normal levels of dopamine in the brain which can cause schizophrenia! MAOB Inhibitors: .These bind to dopamine receptors in the brain synapses and mimic the effect of dopamine and trigger action potentials.The problem with this is getting the gene into the midbrain. drugs should be given to increase levels of dopamine. 5. Levadopa (L-Dopa): . but there are drugs that ease/delay symptoms. 1. As the symptoms are caused by lack of dopamine. inserting a healthy gene into affected cell can work. . Dopamine Antagonists: . This barrier is bad because it also makes it difficult to get drugs into the brain. 3. . .Even though Parkinson’s is not a genetic disease. Gene Therapy: .Inserting genes that promote the growth and survival of dopamine producing nerve cells.This is the molecule used to make dopamine which means more nerve impulses are then transmitted across synapses in the parts that control movement.

they both may not develop the disease because the environment also contributes. It could be due to genetics. the cerebellum and the spinal cord. • Drugs are developed to increase the concentration of serotonin in the synapses. Treatment for Depression • ‘Talking therapies’ can help a patient come to terms with adverse life events. or a chemical inbalance. • Dopamine and noradrenaline may also have a role in some conditions of depression. .This can provide a cure! . work/death). Lack of serotonin results in fewer impulses travelling to the brain and is linked to clinical depression.g.This is done by using embryonic stem cells to replace the failing dopamine producing cells in the brain. SRRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors): . Symptoms of depression: Insomnia Feelings of sadness Anxiety Hopelessness Loss of interest Depression is a multi-factorial condition. • If two people inherit the same genes linked to depression. Serotonin transmits nerve impulses across synapses in the parts of the brain that control mood – linked with reward and pleasure.Problems with this are the ethics of stem cells and that it could cause uncontrolled growth which could cause cancer. See AS – Stem Cells! Depression • • • • • Serotonin is the synaptic neurotransmitter in neurones in the brain stem that have axons that spread throughout into the cortex.. environmental factors (E. 1.

there is a loss of serotonin from neurones due to lack of reuptake. TCAs: . so nerve impulses are constantly triggered in parts that control mood – mood elevation! • • Side effects of ecstasy: Clouded thinking Increased heart rate Muscle Spasms Problems in thermoregulation Hyperthermia (overheating) Kidney failure: due to no urine production and person drinking too much water causing osmosis to destroy cells.Inhibits the enzymes that break down serotonin. The Effect of Drugs on Synapses . relieving the symptoms. MAOA: .Increase levels of serotonin in the brain. MDMA releases all serotonin from presynaptic neurone into the cleft. MDMA – Ecstasy – Treatment for Depression? • Usually. • Also. An example is prozac. serotonin is taken back into the presynaptic neurone after an action potential. • MDMA increases levels of serotonin by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin into the presynaptic neurone.Depression: because the drug has been stimulated so much. So serotonin remains and more impulses travel along the post-synaptic neurone.- These block the process which removes serotonin (reuptake) from the synaptic cleft. so more remains in the synaptic cleft. to be used again. • This means the synapses have a high concentration of serotonin. Short term effects of ecstasy: Feeling happy Sociable Full of energy • Long term effects of ecstasy: . 2. 3.

Neurotransmitter break down: . For example.A drug blocking this means that stimulation will continue as the concentration of neurotransmitters would increase in the synaptic cleft. dopamine agonists that mimic dopamine.The five stages in synaptic transmission that can be affected … 1. This means that nerve impulses won’t pass between cells.For example. 5. binding to the receptors and triggering action potentials. Some drugs might be inhibitory. opening the sodium channels. blocking the receptors and preventing the neurotransmitters binding. Neurotransmitter synthesis and storage: . 3. this would also stop synaptic transmission. For example MDMA (SSRI) works by preventing the reuptake of serotonin. L-dopa is converted into dopamine. therefore stopping post synaptic potentials. Neurotransmitter release from the presynaptic membrane: .If a drug blocks this process. Neurotransmitter receptor binding on the postsynaptic membrane: Some drugs might be stimulatory and bind to the receptors. increasing the concentration of dopamine to reduce the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. synaptic transmission would be reduced as the amount of neurotransmitter is reduced. 2. Neurotransmitter reuptake: A drug blocking this would reduce the intensity of the response as less neurotransmitter will be resynthesized. .If a drug blocks this process.Some drugs may inhibit the enzymes involved in breaking down the neurotransmitter in the synaptic cleft. 4. - - - The Human Genome Project . .

For example. New drugs are being created using the information from the Human Genome Project! Using the information from the identified genes. So a drug that inhibits this enzyme is being developed. In the future. new specific molecules that drugs interact with to have their effects (drug targets) are being identified. information about a patient’s genome may help doctors to prescribe drugs that are: More efficient The correct drug The correct dose (by understanding how rapidly a patient’s body will respond). you can know what disease you are likely to be at risk from. it may be possible to tailor new drugs to suit all individuals. Pharmacogenomics has been developed to link pharmaceutical expertise with the knowledge of the human genome to develop medicines that work with a particular genome. new genes have been increasingly identified (therefore proteins). So. It identified all of the genes found in the human DNA and was stored in databases. . Using these databases. including some that are responsible for inherited conditions (disease).• • • The Human Genome Project was a 13 year multinational project that determined the base sequence of the human genome. an enzyme that helps cancer cells to spread around the body has been identified. • • • • • • • The Human Genome Project allows some diseases to be prevented because if you know what genes you carry. • The Human Genome Project also helps to provide information about evolution and increases our knowledge of physiology and cell biology. even though some of these variations make some drugs less effective for some people. The Human Genome Project has showed genetic variations between people – each individual has unique DNA (except identical twins). even people with variations. So until now drugs have been produced to suit the majority of people. They will produce new drugs affect the disease without damaging healthy body cells and reducing the chance of adverse reactions (saving NHS millions!).

• Who should the information of the genome be assessed to? The information could be used by others. Also. Genetically Modified Organisms  Genetic modification is copying genes and inserting them into other organisms.  Genetically modified organisms are organisms that have had their DNA . for example insurance companies or bosses. and lead to discrimination. the cost will increase because doctors/chemists will have to be trained. • These drugs will be more expensive so only wealthy people will afford it. Could this money be used for something that benefits the majority? • Is it ethical to leave people with genetic variations with no treatment available if there is none? Or is it moral or ethical to give them a drug knowing it will have no effect? Revealing that a drug might not work for a person could be psychologically damaging to them because they have the hope to get better. moral and social Issues Financial Issues: • Creating drugs for specific genetic variations (about 25% people) will increase research costs and time for drug companies.Ethical.

4. to treat type II diabetes. The gene is copied using PCR. A host bacterial cell has its existing plasmids removed and the vector is used to introduce the gene into the host cell. The gene is inserted into a DNA plasmid (type of vector that carry genes into an organism).  altered. 3. Drugs produced from genetic modification of plants can be stored and .They are cheap to culture.They can be grown in large quantities in fermenters. Genetically Modified Microorganisms Microorganisms such as bacteria are the most common target for genetic modification because: . The drugs produced can be extracted and purified using downstream processing.  The gene for the protein (drug) is isolated by cutting out the gene with restriction endonuclease enzyme.  Insulin. is an example of a drug produced from genetically modified bacteria. Our growing knowledge of the human genome is being used in the development of genetically modified organisms to produce proteins which are used as drugs and vaccines to treat human conditions. Genetically Modified Plants   To make more complex proteins. . . desirable human genes are introduced into eukaryotic cells (plant cells) to produce transgenic plants. Microorganisms. from the inserted gene 6. 5. 1. The modified bacterium will grow in large containers so that they divide and produce lots of the useful protein. plants and animals are used to genetically modify.It removes problems of uncertain supply and provides constants source of human hormones. The plasmid is cut with the same restriction endonuclease enzyme.They are easy targets for gene transfer as they reproduce rapidly. So the plasmid and gene join with DNA ligase to produce recombinant DNA. . 2.

. 3. So part of the Ti plasmid with the gene becomes part of the plant chromosomes. These can be genetically modified to carry vaccines to human diseases such as hepatitis B. These are transgenic plants. The protein produced from the gene can be purified from the plant tissues or the protein could be delivered by eating the plant. tumefaciens causes a tumour (crown galls) to develop on the plant so they have abnormal growth. If tumour cells are taken and cultured. The modified bacterium infects the plant and the bacterium inserts the gene into the plant cell DNA. The useful gene can be inserted into the plasmid which is then returned to the bacterium.  Vectors to carry the gene into the plant include Agrobacterium tumefaciens bacterium. 1. The A. See AS level stem cells – totipotency/pluriplotency Genetically Modified Animals  The production or proteins using transgenic animals involves the introduction of a copy of a human gene which codes for the protein into the genetic material of an egg of a different animal species. The Ti plasmid from the Agrobacterium tumefaciens is extracted. containing the new genes. gene guns or a virus. 2. These plant cells contain the new gene.transported easily in plant products such as bananas or potatoes. 4. 5. 6. whole new plants can be grown from them.

viruses.  AAT was needed for a vaccine taken by people who suffer a genetic condition that affects their livers and lungs.   Drugs produced using genetically modified animals include the blood clotting factors used to treat haemophilia.  A promoter sequence was inserted which makes sure the gene will be expressed in the mammary gland of the lactating female – so that the protein is expelled as milk. 2. Tracey. produced the human protein AAT in her milk. Microinjection  DNA is injected into a cell through a very fine micropipette. Microprojectiles  DNA is shot into the cell at high speed carried on minute pellets. microprojectiles and microinjections are used to inject the gene into the nucleus of a fertilised animal egg cell. The first transgenic sheep. The protein produced from the gene is normally purified from the milk or semen of the animal. 3. this micropipette is manipulated using a micromanipulator – humans would destroy the cell! The egg cell is then implanted into and adult animal and it grows into a whole animal that contains a copy of the gene in every cell.1. . causing emphysema to develop at a very early stage. Liposomes. Benefits with Genetically Modified Organisms 1.

This is expensive. 3. Genetic pollution – genes may be transferred into wild species through cross pollination. 4. This is the biggest problem. Genetically modified crops may not produce fertile seeds. so they need to buy new seeds for each planting. 5. This prevents farmers collecting seed and replanting. Antibiotic resistance genes are used to identify genetically modified bacteria which could lead to antibiotic resistance developing in other microbes.Risks/Ethics with Genetically Modified Organisms 1. They could damage natural food chains. Genetically modified crops could become super-weeds that out-compete other plants and may be resistant to herbicides. . resulting in damage to the environment because they would encourage farmers to use more selective herbicides to kill everything but the crop. 2. Some people think it is wrong to genetically modify animals purely for human health.