A receptor in the brain for a chemical messenger, called GABA, has long been implicated in various disorders such as epilepsy. Now, for the first time researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Centre in Dallas, have been able to get a clear image of its structure.  “The implications are far-reaching for understanding mechanisms of drug binding and designing new drugs for diverse neurological conditions,” Ryan Hibbs, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience and Biophysics said.  “The community will be better prepared to, we hope, develop compounds with fewer undesirable effects.”The nervous system functions normally when there is a balance between the excitatory and inhibitory signals in the brain.  Dysfunction of the GABA receptor is found in conditions such as epilepsy where there is an over-excitation of the neurons in the brain.Ryan Hibbs said “We wanted to see in fine detail how the GABA receptor is built, so that we could better understand how it works, and how drugs like those used to treat epilepsy and anxiety and to induce anaesthesia act on the receptor protein…….. The drugs used to treat the more severe forms of epilepsy are hard on the people who need to take them.  Anything we can do to improve the quality of the therapy will have potent positive effects on the quality of life for patients with epilepsy.” Here is a summary of the research