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Creating Modern Neuroscience: The Revolutionary 1950s$
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Gordon M. Shepherd MD, DPhil

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195391503

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195391503.001.0001

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Signaling Molecules: The First Growth Factor

Signaling Molecules: The First Growth Factor

(p.29) 3 Signaling Molecules: The First Growth Factor
Creating Modern Neuroscience: The Revolutionary 1950s

Gordon M. Shepherd

Oxford University Press

This chapter details early studies on the development of nerve cells. The nervous system arises from a single fertilized egg. Classical histologists visualized this process through the cells of the changing embryo. The first great synthesis was the idea of an organizer that directed the formation of the organs. The crux for the nervous system was how connections are established between cells, which implied the presence of intercellular signals. The clearest evidence for such a signal, called “nerve growth factor”, was reported in 1951. Subsequent experiments identified its molecular structure, which came to be known as NGF, the first of a growing number of neurotrophic and neurotrophic factors involved in neural development and in the plasticity of connections that underlie learning, memory, and response to injury.

Keywords:   neuroscience, nerve cells, nerve growth factor, nervous system

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