Nerve Growth Factor

In the near future, NIA’s ADCS plans to test several other therapies for AD. In addition to estrogen, drugs that interact with or increase the supply of NGF are promising. However, because NGF is a relatively large molecule, it cannot go through the protective blood-brain barrier, and thus, cannot be used in drug form. The blood-brain barrier is a system of tightly knit cells that form a boundary around the blood vessels of the brain and permit only certain substances to cross from the blood into the brain. “Many drugs may never get a fair shot,” says Dr. Simpkins. “One issue that repeatedly derails promising compounds is that with no effective transport system, many good drugs do not get into the brain. Often, enormous therapeutic opportunities are lost.”

In looking for ways to enhance the benefits of drugs in the brain, a small biotechnology company has developed a drug that stimulates the release of NGF and other neurotrophins (substances that help neurons grow and regenerate). The ADCS is considering a clinical trial to evaluate this drug.

Source: Connections Magazine [Volume 6(1), Spring 1997


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