. FGF2 gene transfer restores hippocampal functions in mouse models of Alzheimer's disease and has therapeutic implications for neurocognitive disorders. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Dec 6;108(49):E1339-48. PubMed.

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  1. This study on fibroblast growth factor effects in neurodegeneration is most interesting. The effects shown on neuroprotection, reduction of amyloid levels, and stem cell proliferation are indeed what other growth factors (GFs) such as BDNF or NGF have shown in the past. There are other beneficial effects of GFs, for example, enhanced synaptogenesis and a reduction of inflammation. We found very similar effects with GLP-1 analogues (a growth factor-like hormone). We also saw an increase in neurogenesis and a decrease of APP synthesis (McClean et al., 2011).

    The drawback is that most growth factors do not cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Gene therapy or implantation of cells that release the GFs do not appeal as a treatment for millions of AD sufferers.

    The advantage of GLP-1 analogues are that they do cross the BBB, and can be injected peripherally. A clinical trial on the GLP-1 analogue exendin-4 is currently ongoing at the NIH/NIA. We are also planning a trial testing liraglutide, another GLP-1 analogue. The additional bonus is that both drugs are already on the market as a treatment for type 2 diabetes (drug names Byetta and Victoza).

    References:

    . The diabetes drug liraglutide prevents degenerative processes in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. J Neurosci. 2011 Apr 27;31(17):6587-94. PubMed.

    View all comments by Christian Hoelscher

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