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Nerve Growth Factor

Summary:

Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) is a naturally occurring protein that controls the development of the nervous system in embryos and maintains neurons and neural transmission in adults, particularly in sympathetic and sensory nerve cells.

NGF was the first neurotrophin to be identified. It is believed to play a significant role in the repair, regeneration and protection of neurons. By activating certain signaling pathways, NGF stimulates a sequence of proteins and achieves a nourishing effect on cholinergic neurons of the basal forebrain and striatum. This can promote nerve growth and potentially reverse the devastating effects of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s disease.

NGF is comprised of three polypeptide chains, but only one, called beta, is responsible for the nerve growth stimulating effect. A large molecule which cannot be introduced peripherally into the human body, NGF must be directly implanted into the targeted areas of the brain to achieve a therapeutic benefit. One method uses donated skin cells, which are genetically mutated to produce NGF. To avoid the necessity of brain surgery, some research efforts are looking at emulating the effects of NGF in a smaller molecule for clinical use (e.g. adenosine).

Potential benefits:

  • Improved motor function

  • Reduced cognitive impairment

  • Elimination or significant reduction of medication

Risks:

  • Weight loss

  • Pain

  • Tumor formation

  • Brain hemorrhage

Obstacles:

  • Patient post-trial safety

Current research:

  • No current clinical trials listed by any agency.


[1] PharmaLicensing.com; Activation of Nerve Growth Factor Receptor Trophic Functions

[2] MedicineNet.com; MedTerms online

[3] Science Daily; UNC Scientists Discover Molecular Pathway Leading To Nerve Growth And Regeneration; July 5, 2004; University Of North Carolina School Of Medicine

 

Copyright© 2012 Pipeline Project

All rights reserved. Revised: 01/26/12.