Small molecules with a big impact on nervous system disorders

Alicia Mansilla Aparicio


    Alicia Mansilla Aparicio


    IRYCIS, Instituto Ramón y Cajal de Investigación Sanitaria, Spain


    Neurons communicate through synapses, establishing a veritable universe of connections. There are pathologies, such as autism, where these connections exceed normal limits, they are in excess, resulting in a distorted perception of the surroundings. On the other hand, in degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s there is a loss of synapses, i.e. the neurons first become disconnected and then die.

    This also produces the disconnection of the person from the world around him and his memories. There are 48 million people in the world with some form of autism, and 50 million people with dementia (70% of them with Alzheimer’s). Both disorders have no cure and have a major impact on the quality of life of patients, as well as on all those around them.

    Dr. Mansilla’s laboratory has shown that the union of two proteins, NCS-1 and Ric8a, regulates the amount and function of synapses. Thus, this project proposes the development of compounds that inhibit or improve this union, as a viable strategy for the treatment of neuronal pathologies where there has been an imbalance due to excess (autism) or defect (Alzheimer) of the synapses.