Synapses with Multiple Chemical Signals: New Models and Perspectives in Drug Development

  • Erminio Costa
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSA, volume 72)


We have known for several decades that the protracted use of drugs that prevent the activation of neurotransmitter receptors by their specific endogenous ligands is associated with a number of untoward consequences (Paton, 1954). Nevertheless, despite this awareness, drugs that block various types of transmitter receptors have been used therapeutically, in succession. As an example, Table 1 lists some such blockers that at various times have had clinical popularity but, as Table 1 shows, the final verdict on the clinical utility of the drug often has been negative on account of overwhelmingly potent side effects. One might ask what is the reason then for persevering in such an approach? The tenet that has driven neuropsychopharmacological research in the last 30 years is that drugs that affect CNS function act at synapses, where they modify the mechanisms whereby various neurons generate, transmit, and receive specific chemical signals which are used to convey specific information from one neuron to the other. Until a few years ago, it was believed that each neuron uses one neurochemical transmitter to communicate with contiguous neurons (Eccles et al., 1956), that is, communication between neurons is by code words not by a language.


Recognition Site Chromaffin Cell Gaba Receptor Opiate Receptor Multiple Chemical 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erminio Costa
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Preclinical PharmacologyN.I.M.H. Saint Elizabeths HospitalUSA

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