Nerve cells and metabolism is regulated by growth factors

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Carlos Ibáñez, Wallenberg Scholar 2012, is professor of neuroscience, especially molecular neurobiology, at Karolinska Institutet. He researches into growth factors and their receptors, factors of importance for a large number of functions like acting as signals between the cells in the body, the development of the nervous system, and metabolic control.

One particularly interesting field is how the neuronal growth factors affect the survival and development of the nerve cells and their role in cortical inhibition. The hope is that this will explain a number of cognitive disorders, such as epilepsy, schizophrenia and autism. It is also hoped that understanding the underlying biochemical mechanisms determining the function of neuronal growth factors will enable the production of genetically artificial growth factors for treating diseases of the nervous system.

"These signaling mechanisms are a window into the nervous system which allows us to obtain insights into fundamental issues of neural development and adult nervous system function," says Professor Ibáñez.

Accumulation of adipose tissue and secretion of insulin

Carlos Ibáñez researches also into the significance of growth factors for the regulation of metabolism in for example adipose tissue and insulin-producing cells. His research group has shown that the receptor ALK7 might have a crucial role in regulating the accumulation of adipose tissue and secretion of insulin into the blood. This new knowledge opens up for future treatments for obesity and diabetes.

"This scholarship will enable us to continue working with the highest possible aims and to let our hair down and really test out new research avenues," says Professor Ibáñez.