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Human Ciliary Neurotrophic Factor and Post Polio Syndrom

  I saw an article in a health magazine about your testing of human ciliary
  neurotrophic factor on mice with ALS-like symptoms.  According to this
  article, this factor stiumlates nerve cells to grow and the treated mice
  developed stronger muscles and walked better.  I understand you are now
  testing this on humans.  My questions involved Post Polio Syndrome victims
   and whether this factor might help them.  As you know the myelin sheath
  in polio victims is attacked by the virus, destroying many of the nerve
  synapse connections to their muscles.  Post Polio Syndrome is a further
  deterioration of the nerve synapses.  If human ciliary neurotropic factor
  does indeed stimulate nerve cells to grow, couldn't it help reverse some
  of the affects of polio and post polio sydrome, ensuring a better quality
  of life. Please give me any and all information you have on this.  
  (My father suffers from PPS and any help would be greatly appreciated!!)
  Thank you.
  Jennifer S.
Dear Jennifer:
In ALS, it has been suggested that motor neuron death is a consequence of oxidative stress caused in part by dysfunction of mitochondria and neurofilament proteins.  The notion that impaired cellular function can gnerate motor neuron death is supported by the finding that mice with mutated light-chain neurofilaments have many characteristics of ALS pathology.  It has been shown that in postmortem studies that CNTF levels are decreased in the ventral horm of the spinal cord of ALS patients, suggesting reduced neurotrophic stimuli these cells.  As you can see, the association is speculative at best, although very interesting.  It would seem to me (speculation) that CNTF might also have a benefit for post-polio syndrome.  However, we are not sure if the motor neuron death mechansim seen in post-polio is similar to ALS.  Presumably, the neurons that survived the initial viral attack are slowly dying off in a natural fashion from the aging process and since there are fewer neurons remaining, this aging effect is
pronounced.  There is a linkage to aging and oxidative damage and hence mitochondrial dysfunction.  However, this linkage is more speculative than those associations for ALS.  It is a good thought but not much data to support it yet.  I do not know of any active clinical trial with CNTF and post-polio syndrome.  Thanks for the question.  I am sorry that I couldn't give you more beneficial information.  You might contact the post-polio website.
CCF Neuro[P] MD, RPS

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