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Small Molecule Found To Mimic Key Nerve Growth Factors; May Eventually Be Used In Treatment Of Brain Disorders

Date:
March 19, 2001
Source:
Society For Neuroscience
Summary:
Scientists have found that a small, naturally-occurring molecule that enters the brain easily keeps nerve cells alive by stimulating the actions of growth factors. This points the way for the potential use in the future of small molecules to approach a number of disorders, which may include Alzheimer’s disease, spinal cord injury and Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Washington, DC -- Scientists have found that a small, naturally-occurring molecule that enters the brain easily keeps nerve cells alive by stimulating the actions of growth factors. This points the way for the potential use in the future of small molecules to approach a number of disorders, which may include Alzheimer’s disease, spinal cord injury and Lou Gehrig’s disease.

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“We have discovered that a small molecule called adenosine can mimic the effects of nerve growth factor and brain-derived growth factor to prevent cell death in the nervous system,” says Moses Chao, PhD, a neurobiologist at New York University. Such growth factors serve as survival agents for nerve cells, keeping them alive. Chao’s study, funded primarily by the National Institutes of Health, appears in the March 13 issue of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “This is important because although there are many potential uses for growth factors for treatment of diseases, they are difficult to deliver. In contrast, small molecules such as adenosine are easy to deliver,” says Lloyd Greene, PhD, a neuroscientist and professor of pathology at Columbia University.

Using rat nerve cells isolated from the hippocampus, a brain area involved in learning and memory, and grown in the laboratory, Chao found that adenosine was able to communicate with receptors for brain-derived growth factor. This resulted in the production of the signals that prevented neurons from dying.

These results suggest that there may be other small molecules that work like adenosine. The next steps are to test adenosine compounds in animal models of human diseases.

Chao’s co-author is Francis Lee, MD, PhD, of Cornell University Medical College. Chao is a member of the Society for Neuroscience, an organization 28,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and nervous system.


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The above story is based on materials provided by Society For Neuroscience. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Society For Neuroscience. "Small Molecule Found To Mimic Key Nerve Growth Factors; May Eventually Be Used In Treatment Of Brain Disorders." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 March 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/03/010306073037.htm>.
Society For Neuroscience. (2001, March 19). Small Molecule Found To Mimic Key Nerve Growth Factors; May Eventually Be Used In Treatment Of Brain Disorders. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/03/010306073037.htm
Society For Neuroscience. "Small Molecule Found To Mimic Key Nerve Growth Factors; May Eventually Be Used In Treatment Of Brain Disorders." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/03/010306073037.htm (accessed November 29, 2014).

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