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Nerve Growth Factor and Why We Love Science

Friday, March 09, 2018

Neurotropins are exciting blood stream-signaling proteins that induce the survival of neurons. They are capable of stimulating specific cells to survive, differentiate, or grow. This can be particularly important to those suffering from age-related loss of optimal eye and brain function.

Neurogenesis (the development of new adult neurons) studies are conflicting and in constant debate over whether and to what extent the human brain produces new cells in adulthood.

Nerve growth factor (NGF), discovered by Nobel Prize-winning biochemist / neurologist Rita Levi-Montalcini, is a neurotropihc factor and neuropeptide primarily involved in regulation of mitochondrial energy production, growth, maintenance, proliferation, and survival of certain target neurons including those in the brain.

NGF, like other neurotrophins, activate receptors in target cells called tyrosine receptor kinases, or Trk. Trks are proteins on the surface of neurons, which when activated by NGF, cause a series of cellular processes stimulating young neurons to grow axons and survive. Any of the cells that do not find their target will undergo apoptosis, keeping appropriate connections and eliminating inappropriate ones.

Since the Levi-Montalcini discovery, hundreds of studies have been done on NGF with the results suggesting a growing body of positive benefits that affect both the anterior and posterior segments of the eye, as well as inflammation suppression and slowing both age-related memory loss and cognitive decline.

Dr. Levi-Montalcini died at the age of 103 and successfully self-treated with NGF eye drops for years. 

A Neurotrophic Factors textbook protocol published this year in Methods in Molecular Biology titled "Ocular Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) and NGF Eye Drop Application as Paradigms to Investigate NGF" got our attention, because the eye and brain as central nervous system structures can be uniquely accessible to eye drop treatment both through the ocular surface and intraocularly, with direct access to the retina, optic nerve, and the brain.

The investigators are confident that new insights in neurotrophin research may well emerge using the eye-brain delivery system. 

A few studies suggest that a number of oral nutritional supplements also support NGF activity including:

Lion's mane

Green tea

Milk thistle



Vitamin A






The Biosyntrx science team is always interested in Lifestyle studies that address human biology and biochemistry, proven to help prevent disease. Lifestyle events that support positive NGF activity are:

Social enrichment


Exercise, including low-intensity resistance training and treadmill exercise

And our favorite NGF support lifestyle event, falling in love

Ellen Troyer with Spencer Thornton, MD, David Amess and the Biosyntrx staff


PEARL: Following approval by the European Medicines Agency in June 2017, genetically engineered recombinant human nerve growth factor (rhNGF) eye drops will soon be available in the European market as an orphan disease drug breakthrough treatment for neurotrophic keratitis and related conditions. The pharmaceutical eye drop common name is Cenegermin.

Recombinant human nerve growth factor is also regarded as one of the most promising therapies for neurodegeneration of the central and peripheral nervous systems, as well as for several other pathological conditions involving the immune system.

The bottom line: Support ongoing research in all areas of science.

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