About this book
In the past few years, the scientific community has witnessed significant progress in the study of ion channels. Technological advancement in biophysics, molecular biology, and immunology has been greatly ac celerated, making it possible to conduct experiments which were deemed very difficult if not impossible in the past. For example, patch-clamp techniques can now be used to measure ionic currents generated by almost every type of cell, thereby allowing us to analyze whole-cell and single channel events. It is now possible to incorporate purified ion channel components into lipid bilayers to reconstitute an "excitable membrane." Gene cloning and monoclonal antibody techniques provide us with new approaches to the study of the molecular structure of ion channels. A variety of chemicals have now been found to interact with ion channels. One of the classical examples is represented by tetrodotoxin, a puffer fish poison, which was shown in the early 1960s to block the voltage-activated sodium channel in a highly specific and potent manner.
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