Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have received an eight-year, $8.8 million grant to study cells’ ion channels as potential targets for new drugs to treat disorders affecting the brain, heart and muscles. Ion channels are found in a variety of cells, where they are involved in the conversion of chemical and mechanical messages into electrical signals.
The grant, from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), was awarded to principal investigator Baron Chanda, PhD, a professor of anesthesiology. Chanda’s research probes the physical and chemical underpinnings of electrical signaling in cells, particularly in cellular ion channels.
“We’re trying to understand the molecular mechanisms that underlie the function of a variety of voltage-gated ion channels in cells,” he said. “These channels are involved in cardiac pacemaking, pain sensation, learning and memory, and their dysfunction can lead to diseases such as epilepsy and neuropathic pain, among others.”