ALBANY, N.Y., February 22, 2012— The Murchison meteorite crashed into a field near Murchison, Australia, in 1969 and remains one of the most studied meteorites due to its richness in organic compounds and its potential for unlocking clues to how natural processes occur in our universe. Among those researching Murchison’s wealth of materials—scientists at Albany Medical College, who have found that one extraterrestrial amino acid may prevent or reduce the duration of seizures in epilepsy. [Their findings were published in the journal Epilepsia... View the article HERE]While we collectively believe "we" possess a great deal of scientific knowledge, it is likely we have only scratched the surface. There is more "going on" that we don't know anything about than we think!
Studies of the meteorite’s composition have revealed the presence of amino acids—considered the building blocks of life and used in every cell of the body to build the proteins needed to survive. The discovery of these molecules that are so essential to human life within an extraterrestrial object have led scientists to question whether the meteorite is a clue to life outside of our solar system, and whether theories of evolution’s “big bang theory” hold any truth. Among the amino acids found within the meteorite, of particular interest to Damian Shin, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Center for Neuropharmacology and Neuroscience at Albany Med, is the amino acid isovaline.
“Previous studies found that isovaline is structurally similar to another amino acid called glycine, which has been shown to calm the nerves in the brain—so we hypothesized that isovaline may also have an effect on seizure control by calming brain activity in a similar manner,” he explains.
In his research, Dr. Shin studied isovaline that, since the meteorite’s initial discovery, has also been found in fungus on Earth and is theorized to result from dust from the meteorite. Using rodent models, Dr. Shin and his team examined the effect isovaline had on controlling seizures. When isovaline came in contact with the brain, Dr. Shin and his team observed its reaction on neuronal activity.
“Just as we suspected, we found that isovaline quiets excitatory neurons. However, it does so by a mechanism unlike glycine. Instead, isovaline increases the activity of interneurons, which act as ‘gating’ cells, which control how other neurons interact with each other ,” he says. “In this way, isovaline stopped seizures completely or reduced the frequency of seizures by 50 percent.”
What we don't know is what other space debris could bring dangerous life forms or microbes here that could spread and wreak havoc. Something to give serious consideration to!
Tags: Epilepsia, Murchison meteorite
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