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† B. Will Nerve Growth Factors Lead to New Therapies for Brain Disease?

Narrator: This is Science Today. Twenty years of research has shown that a family of proteins called growth factors are present in the brain throughout life. Dr. Mark Tuszynksi of the University of California, San Diego, says if these growth factors are given to animals that have some sort of brain disease, they potently prevent the death of cells in the brain.

Tuszynski: And this ability to prevent cell death in the adult, living brain is of potential vital importance for developing better therapies for neurological disease. Itís the case that many diseases of the brain are quite untreatable and that includes things like Alzheimerís disease, Parkinsonís, ALS, Lou Gehrigís disease and all of these diseases progress over time.

Narrator: Tuszynski led a clinical trial in which nerve growth factor injected into the brains of patients with Alzheimerís disease led to an increase in metabolic activity in the brain. Larger studies need to be conducted, but if all goes well, this could be a new therapy in four to five years.

Tuszynski: That sounds like a long time, but the development of these growth factors and of gene therapy has really been twenty years in the making.

Narrator: For Science Today, Iím Larissa Branin.