Monday, April 25, 2005

Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) and Alzheimer Disease

Technique Shows Promise Against Alzheimer's
By Rick Weiss
The Washington Post
Monday, April 25, 2005; Page A02

Injections of genetically altered cells into the brain appear to nourish ailing neurons and may slow the cognitive decline in patients with Alzheimer's disease, scientists reported yesterday in a preliminary study.

The experimental approach, pursued by researchers at the University of California at San Diego, aims to rejuvenate brain cells by providing a steady supply of a nerve-nurturing hormone secreted by the injected cells.

In studies involving a half-dozen Alzheimer's patients, most showed evidence of increased nerve growth and activity in the region of the brain most affected by the degenerative disease. Psychological test scores suggested the treatment also tempered the slow slide into dementia that is characteristic of Alzheimer's.

"If these effects are borne out in larger, controlled trials, this could be a significant advance over existing therapies for Alzheimer's disease," said study leader Mark Tuszynski, director of UCSD's Center for Neural Repair and a neurologist at the San Diego Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

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