Reviving the brain

Scientists could soon develop a drug that would help repair brain disorders

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

a drug is being developed that would help repair damaged nerves in patients with Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and other brain disorders. Two groups of researchers, one led by Guilford at Johns Hopkins University and another led by Bruce Gold at Oregon Health Sciences University, discovered the drug several years ago.

While investigating the properties of fk-506' s, a drug used in organ transplantation, both the teams found that it was able to simulate nerves' growth. Recently, Guilford Pharmaceuticals Inc of Baltimore, Maryland and Amgen Inc. of California, have joined hands to develop the Guildford's nerve drugs.

Scientists say Guildford's drugs appear to represent a significant advance over other drugs for regenerating damaged nerves. Most of the drugs have faired poorly in human tests. The old nerve drugs are bulky proteins that cannot move from the blood stream into the brain. Such properties of these drugs make its difficult to test on human because they are required to be injected directly in the brain to work. On the contrary, Guildford's medicines can be given to patients orally. The drug moves easily from the blood into the brain.

When the drug was tested in animals having Parkinson's disease-like syndrome, it was able to restore the damaged nerve cells. Guildford's drugs have also shown positive result in eliminating other harmful symptoms. Claude Louis, a brain scientist of Amgen, says it is a breakthrough in brain biology. However, he says, it will take a long time for both the companies to test the drugs and their efficacy.

At the same time, Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., a biotechnology company in Massachusetts, is planning to develop similar nerve growth drugs. According to the company, it has also successfully tested the drug on animals. Vertex is expected to begin its trials on human within a year.

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