BOSTON, Mass.--Implants to deliver nerve growth factor (NGF) to nerve cells in the brain were described here today at a national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society. A protein that stimulates the growth of nerve cells and keeps them from degenerating, NGF could help to prevent or control Alzheimer's disease, said W. Mark Saltzman, Ph.D, of Cornell University.
He and his colleagues have succeeded in releasing NGF via pea-sized pellets implanted in the brains of test animals; since animals are not affected by Alzheimer's disease, the implants were placed in the area of the brain which, in humans, is vulnerable to the disease. Dr. Saltzman said previous attempts to deliver NGF to the brain by pumping a water-based NGF solution into the ventricle were difficult and cumbersome.
NGF has proved useful in the treatment of other diseases: It has been delivered by eye-wash to treat retinal ulcers, and by injection into the bloodstream to treat diabetic neuropathy, a peripheral nerve disease that causes loss of feeling in the extremities.
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