Agile molecular protein motors found

July 17, 2006 at 5:49 PM

PHILADELPHIA, July 17 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say their discovery about how certain proteins function as molecular motors might lead to treatments for some neurological maladies.

Penn State researchers Dr. Yale Goldman, director of the Pennsylvania Muscle Institute, and Physiology Professor Erika Holzbaur say their finding specifically might result in better ways to treat motor neuron diseases -- a group of progressive neurological disorders that destroy cells that control voluntary muscles for such activities as speaking, walking, breathing and swallowing.

When motor neurons die, the muscle itself atrophies. A well-known motor neuron disease is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

The scientists detailed their findings in a recent issue of the journal Nature Cell.

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