University of Colorado scientists say their research on mice brains could bring to new insights into a variety of neurological conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease.

Their recently published study found a key receptor once thought only to strengthen synapses - regions where nerve impulses are transmitted and received - can also weaken them.  

Professor Mark Dell’Acqua says the discovery could help with basic understanding of conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy and Down syndrome.

“But I think there are implications for these other conditions too, such as drug addiction and PTSD in particular," he said. "Certainly there are other groups out there studying and I think based on our discovery might change their thinking about this and give them some new clues of how to pursue those further.”

He says strengthening a synapse might help treat Alzheimer’s, but have the opposite impact on addiction or PTSD.

Researchers hope the findings could eventually lead to new drugs to treat a range of conditions.