CNTF CELL RECEPTOR CLONEDScientists at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. have cloned andcharacterized the cell receptor for a nerve growth promotercalled ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF). The factor and itscell-surface receptor offer possible therapeutic pathways totreating nervous system disorders.

One of several factors that nurture the nervous system, CNTFappears to work at a receptor that has more in common withthat for interleukin-6 (IL-6) than with receptors for any of theother neurotrophic factors, such as nerve growth factor. Likethe receptor for IL-6, the CNTF receptor may be able to eitherdetach and float freely in the bloodstream to mop up excessCNTF or bring the CNTF signal to cells that do not have theirown receptors for the factor, the scientists speculated in theJuly 5 issue Science.

In addition to the Tarrytown, N.Y.-based company, othercompanies are investigating the role CNTF and otherneurotrophic factors might play in healing degenerativedisorders of the nervous system, such as Alzheimer's diseaseand peripheral neuropathies. Competitors in-clude CortexPharmaceuticals Inc., Cephalon Inc. and CambridgeNeuroScience Research Inc. -- Roberta Friedman, Ph.D.

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