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Scientists focus light on a key molecular family with regulatory roles in neurocognitive functions

Puducherry: A new study conducted by Indian researchers has unravelled regulatory role of an exclusive family of molecules, Nerve Growth Factors (NGFs), in comprehensive neurocognitive functions and etiogenesis of neuropsychiatric disorders, raising hopes for preventive, rehabilitative and therapeutic use of these molecules in such disorders.


The research team included scientists from premier Indian medical and neuroscience research institutes such as All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi; the National Brain Research Centre (NBRC), Manesar; and Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER), Pondicherry. It was led by Dr Ashutosh Kumar, assistant professor, department of anatomy, JIPMER,

The research report titled ‘Regulatory role of NGFs in neurocognitive functions‘ which is an exhaustive review of established research on individual members of the nerve growth factor super family (NGFs) has been published in a prestigious peer reviewed international journal, ‘Reviews in the Neurosciences’.

NGFs, or simply called neurotrophins, are omnipresent molecules in the brain (as has been brought to focus by this research) and are secreted by neurons induced with mental activity and have been highly involved during brain development.

The prototype member of this super family ‘NGF’ is the legendary molecule reported by famous Italian lady scientist Professor Rita Levi Montalcini in 1950s which had changed the course of brain research, and for which she was awarded with Nobel prize in Physiology/Medicine, 1986, following which many other neurotrophins were discovered and their receptors and mechanisms of action identified.

According to Dr Ashutosh Kumar, the elaborative research done on NGFs is the joint effort by the team of researchers and scientists from different science backgrounds and discloses a unified role of NGFs in normal neural functions as well as in common etiogenesis of neuro-psychiatric disorders which were quite not clear from isolated studies.

Vikas Pareek, a junior scientist at Computational Neuroscience and Neuroimaging Department, National Brain Research Centre, Manesar, and a registered pharmacist, said that the research article has been focussed on exploring NGFs’ role in comprehensive regulation of neurocognitive functions, maintenance of normal psychology and pathogenesis of neurocognitive or psychiatric disorders.

Dr Pavan Kumar, Dr Khursheed Raza (Department of Anatomy, AIIMS, Delhi) and Dr Muneeb Faiq (Department of Ophthalmology, AIIMS, Delhi) added their views on the current research stating that the NGFs are well known for their diverse array of functions in nervous system but “first time a panoramic view of these brought forth by us has to surprise neuroscientists for NGFs’ prodigious unified actions which were dispersed in literature and hence hidden from the view. Our integrative research may further induce extensive research on therapeutic applications of these molecules in prevention, rehabilitation and treatment of neurocognitive or psychiatric disorders which are propagating epidemically and have become a major health burden worldwide.”

Dr Pranav Prasoon, Sankat Mochan (Department of Anatomy, AIIMS, Delhi) and Dr Subramanyam Dantham (an ex-junior scientist at Department of Biochemistry, AIIMS, Delhi, and currently a Indian Council of Medical Research scientist) stated that NGFs are the only candidates with whom pieces of evidence stand firm favouring their mechanistic role in etiogenesis and progression of almost all spectrum of neurocognitive or psychiatric disorders. “We researchers are foresighted that in near future novel therapeutic options will be developed to target NGFs signalling cascade halting course of progression of such mental disorders or may be being used as a preventive measure.”

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