EDITORIAL - New Hopes for Neurologically Disabled|
The later half of the twentieth century witnessed rapid advances in our understanding of the nervous system, in health and disease, as a result of developments in diverse fields. Beginning in the 1950's, neurochemical and neuropharmacological investigations resulted in the identification of a host of neurotransmitters, neuromodulators, neurohormones, the mechanisms of their storage, release, reabsorption; their receptors, their preferential neuronal circuits and their role in specific neuronal functions. This led to the development of a number of drugs for both neurological and psychiatric disorders like epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, depression and schizophrenia. This was followed by emergence of molecular biology as a new discipline which made it possible to explore the neuronal functions at the molecular level. Hundreds of neurotransmitter genes were isolated, cloned and studied in detail. This paved the way for the pharmaceutical industry to develop new drugs to target specific receptors and nerve network, raising hopes for treatment of some of the neurodegenerative disorders. Mental illnesses were no more the exclusive domain of devotees of psychodynamic theories, but were brought under the realm of biological studies.