Researchers at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Toronto's MountSinai Hospital said they have discovered ligands to previouslyunknown receptor tyrosine kinases that may lead to additionalapproaches in dealing with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.Leonard Schleifer, Regeneron's president and CEO, said thescientists not only cloned the protein ligands for the orphanreceptors, but discovered how the ligands can activate the receptors.The research was published in Friday's issue of Science in an articletitled "Ligands for EPH-related receptor tyrosine kinases that requiremembrane-attachment or clustering for activity." The EPH-relatedreceptors are found throughout the body, particularly in the nervoussystem.Schleifer said Regeneron's next step is to conduct tests to determinethe roles played by the proteins. Because the ligands are foundprimarily in the brain, the Tarrytown, N.Y., company's initialresearch will focus on the way they act on the nervous system in anattempt to target treatments for disorders such as Parkinson's andAlzheimer's diseases.One of the researchers' findings was the "manner in which solubleforms of the EPH-family ligands can be activated by deliberateclustering." This process, they said, "for the first time will allowsoluble forms of the ligands to be evaluated for their biologicalactions and potential therapeutic applications." _ Charles Craig

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