The study found that mutations can produce typical effects including debilitating tremors, major loss of motor control, and depression. The study also provides additional support for the idea that dopamine transporter mutations are a risk factor for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
After identifying the dopamine transporter as the mutated gene linked to Parkinson's, researchers once again turned to the Harel Weinstein Lab due to its long-standing interest and investment in studying the human dopamine transporter.
Sahai's simulations using XSEDE and TACC's Stampede supercomputer supported clinical trials by offering greater insight into how the dopamine transporter is involved in neurological disorders.
"This research is very important to me," Sahai said. "I was able to look at the structure of the dopamine transporter on behalf of experimentalists and understand how irregularities in this protein are harming an actual person, instead of just looking at something isolated on a computer screen."
While there is currently no cure for Parkinson's disease, a deeper understanding of the specific mechanisms behind it will help the seven to ten million people afflicted with the disease.
"Like my work on drug abuse, the end goal is thinking about how we can help people. And it all comes back to drug design," Sahai said.
|Contact: Faith Singer-Villalobos|
University of Texas at Austin, Texas Advanced Computing Center