A study published in the September 18, 2013 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience points, for the first time, to the gene NTRK3 (neurotrophic tyrosine kinase receptor type 3) (also known as trkC) as a factor in susceptibility to the disease. The researchers define the specific mechanism for the formation of fear memories which will help in the development of new pharmacological and cognitive treatments. An estimated five out of every 100 people in Spain suffer from panic disorder, one of the diseases included within the anxiety disorders, and those affected experience frequent and sudden attacks of fear that may influence their everyday lives, sometimes even rendering them incapable of things like going to the shops, driving the car, or holding down a job. It was known that this disease had a neurobiological and genetic basis and for some time the search had been on to discover which genes were involved in its development, with certain genes being implicated without their physiopathological contribution being understood. Now, for the first time, researchers from the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) have revealed that the gene NTRK3, responsible for encoding a protein essential for the formation of the brain, the survival of neurones and establishing connections between them, is a factor in genetic susceptibility to panic disorder. "We have observed that deregulation of NTRK3 produces changes in brain development that lead to malfunctions in the fear-related memory system," explains Dr. Mara Dierssen, head of the Cellular and Systems Neurobiology group at the CRG.
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