Hacker News article Brain-derived, not neuronal, neurotrophic factors (BDNF) have been used as treatment for Parkinson’s since the 1980s, and a recent paper has provided the first clinical trial showing that the drugs can help people with the disease.
The paper, published in the journal Cell, shows that the neurotrophic effects of BDNF-derived compounds have been replicated in a separate study.
The researchers also found that the compounds can be delivered by injection and injected into the brain.
The authors say that the results are encouraging because it suggests BDNF could be a promising treatment for people with Parkinson’s.
“The results are exciting, but we don’t know whether BDNF will work as well in people with PD as it does in people without PD,” says co-author Alexander Baer, an assistant professor of neurology at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
Baer and his colleagues used BDNF to treat patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other forms of Parkinson’s, and also with other forms such as Huntington’s disease.
In a series of studies, they found that BDNF delivered into the mice injected with Parkinson patients significantly increased the animals’ activity and brain activity, but it also caused them to have less activity in the prefrontal cortex and decreased brain activity in other brain regions.
Baers and his team were surprised to find that BDNG-derived BDNF significantly increased brain activity as well, and increased it significantly more than the non-BDNF BDNF that was injected into mice.
This suggests that BDND could improve neurogenesis, Baer says.
Baier also thinks that the brain-derived form of BDNG may be a better option than the brain’s own natural BDNF.
“When BDNF is injected into a mouse, it is injected directly into the mouse brain, which is the main source of its neurotrophic activity,” Baer explains.
“We’re looking at this from a different angle because BDNF doesn’t interact with neurons, so it doesn’t have to interact with the cells in the brain.”
The BDNF injected into mouse brains also increased activity in areas of the brain involved in learning and memory, Baers says.
This is what could make BDNF a promising option for treating Parkinson’s patients, because it is a natural neurotrophic molecule that also has the potential to improve memory, he says.
“If you’re looking for a novel neurotrophic agent to treat PD, this is probably a better candidate than BDNF because BDND doesn’t cross into the neurons,” he says, noting that it could also be injected into other parts of the body, such as the brain stem.
This could also help prevent side effects associated with BDNF injections, such that the patients may not experience side effects.
This study, Baere’s co-authors and him say, is the first to show that BDNT is able to stimulate BDNF activity in mice and then produce significant neurogenetic changes.
This raises the possibility that BDN could be useful for treating patients with Parkinson disease, says study co-lead author Jason Zink, a professor of molecular neuroscience at the UC San Diego School of Medicine.
“This is a promising study because it shows that BDNC can induce neurotrophic change and that it can improve brain function in Parkinson’s,” Zink says.
He adds that it is possible that BDNN might also have potential as a treatment for other diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and bipolar disorder.
“There are lots of things that we don