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Sun Apr 10 20:48:56 EST 2005

> I was wondering how nerve growth factors; (NGFs), were coming along in
> regards to research.

Exploding, out of control, very exciting.

Just pick up the Abstracts from last November's Annual Meeting
of the Society for Neuroscience.  You'll see session after session
on neurotrophic factors.  The sessions were packed.  Now I understand
there's an international meeting entirely devoted to the subject.

> I had heard that fetal tissue has been effective
> in regenerating optic nerve damage in rats. Have any other NGF's
> been tested?

First, I'll assume that by "NGF's" you mean neurotrophic factors
in general.  Nerve growth factor, or NGF, is the prototypic member
of a class of molecules called neurotrophins; the other known members
are brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), neurotrophin-3 (NT-3)
and NT-4/5.  There are other classes of molecules, such as fibroblast
growth factors, epidermal growth factor and insulin-like growth factors,
which exhibit neurotrophic activity.

On the subject of whether neurotrophic factors have been "tested"
for effectiveness in stimulating optic nerve regeneration, I can
offer a few references (two very recent) that ought to at least
get you started:

	Jelsma et al. (1993) Different forms of the neurotrophin
		receptor trkB mRNA predominate in rat retina and
		optic nerve.  J. Neurobiol. 24:1207-1214.
		[And references therein]

	Zanellato et al. (1993) Developing rat retinal ganglion cells
		express the functional NGF receptor p140trkA.
		Dev. Biol. 159:105-113.

	Carmignoto et al. (1989) Effect of NGF on the survival of
		rat retinal ganglion cells following optic nerve
		section.  J. Neurosci. 9:1263-1272.

Also, you might check out these reviews of the neurotrophic factor

	Chao, M.V. (1992) Neurotrophin receptors: a window into
		neuronal differentiation.  Neuron 9:583-593.

	Thoenen, H. (1991) The changing scene of neurotrophic factors.
		Trends Neurosci. 14:165-170.

	Barde, Y.-A. (1989) Trophic factors and neuronal survival.
		Neuron 2:1525-1534.

> Also if anyone could point me in the direction of research centers
> or even public companies doing work in this field it would be really
> cool and appreciated.

Just a couple of ideas: Regeneron Pharmaceuticals in Tarrytown, NY
and the Center for Research in Neuroscience at Montreal General
Hospital (home of Jelsma and Albert Aguayo -- see above).
Regeneron is perhaps the most famous public corporation doing
neurotrophic factor research, though there are many others.
I wouldn't know where all specific studies on the role of trophic
factors in optic nerve damage are going on, but certainly the
Montreal groups qualify.

> Unfortunately this kind of stuff is never publicized.

Well, I'm not sure what you mean by "publicized", but certainly
there is at least a small section of the literature occupied by
the studies you're interested in.

Have fun.

Steve Matheson   Program in Neuroscience   University of Arizona
sfm at neurobio.arizona.edu

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