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Scientists Identify Class of Molecules That Stimulate Optic Nerve Regeneration.

September 4, 2003.

Press Release.


Scientists at Boston Children's Hospital and Boston Life Sciences Identify Class of Molecules That Stimulate Optic Nerve Regeneration.

These and Other Molecules Previously Licensed to BLSI Appear to Provide for Optimal Optic Nerve Regeneration as Described in the Current Issue of Journal of Neuroscience

Boston Life Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: BLSI) announced that scientists at Boston Children's Hospital and BLSI have identified specific carbohydrates (sugars) capable of stimulating optic nerve regeneration. This discovery also provides an explanation as to why fish and amphibia retain the ability to regenerate their optic nerves after injury and why mammals (including humans) have lost this ability. The findings are published in the current issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, and are the subject of a featured review in the Journal.

Fish and amphibia are known to be capable of regenerating their optic nerves throughout life. In contrast, mammals are incapable of optic nerve (or other Central Nervous System; CNS) regeneration after injury. This lack of optic nerve regeneration in humans is responsible for the extremely limited ability to recover eyesight after optic nerve injury or after treatment for glaucoma.

BLSI's collaborating scientists at Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston MA, have previously demonstrated that such regeneration is possible in mammals, provided that certain regenerative molecules are provided (JNeuroscience;2003;23;6;2284). Three such molecules have been identified by a Harvard team, led by Dr. Larry Benowitz, and licensed to BLSI for potential commercial development. The role of a fourth molecule, mannose, is the subject of the current article by Dr. Benowitz and colleagues.

"These studies are not only important from a fundamental neuroscience prospective, they provide BLSI with a comprehensive and proprietary approach to the problem of optic nerve and other CNS nerve regeneration," stated Dr. Marc Lanser, Chief Scientific Officer of BLSI and co-author of the article. "We believe that these findings have implications far beyond optic nerve regeneration. We intend to incorporate these latest discoveries into our CNS development program in order to further expand the number of potential therapeutic molecules for the treatment of stroke, spinal cord injury and eye diseases," added Dr. Lanser.

Mannose is a simple carbohydrate closely related structurally to the glucose. While mannose was the only carbohydrate that stimulated optic nerve regeneration in mammalian retinal ganglion cells, goldfish cells were able to utilize other carbohydrates (including glucose) and were otherwise far less restricted in the specific conditions required for their optic nerve growth. Thus, the explanation as to why lower vertebrates (but not mammals) can regenerate their optic nerve appears to be that lower vertebrate nerve cells retain the ability to respond to a relatively wide range of readily-available carbohydrates, and additionally do not require other co-factors (also identified in the current article) that mammalian optic nerve cells require in order to grow their optic nerves.

CONTACT: Boston Life Sciences, Inc. Joseph Hernon, 617/425-0200

SOURCE: Boston Life Sciences, Inc.

Copyright . Boston Life Sciences. 2003. All rights reserved.

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