Proposal for joint development of therapeutic drugs for nerve regeneration proteins

Local administration of GFRα1, a novel axon regeneration factor secreted by repair Schwann cells, promotes axon regeneration.


  • Since this protein promotes the speed of axon regeneration, variety of diseases would be its target.
  • Applicable as secreting as well as adhesion factor.
  • Applicable as a coating protein on artificial materials.

Background and Technology

Because the treatment strategy for peripheral nerve injuries has remained unchanged for seven decades, the effective therapy has been desired. Although artificial nerves have been recently developed to avoid nerve reconstruction by autologous nerve, their indication is limited for restoring sensory nerves, limiting their usage in clinical application. Schwann cells constitute a peripheral nerve and play a major role in the repair process of nerve by differentiating into repair phenotype.

The research group found that GFRα1 secreted by repair Schwann cells promotes axon regeneration after peripheral nerve injury by functioning as a ligand to stimulate the complex of NCAM and integrin. Furthermore, they confirmed the potent therapeutic efficacy of GFRα1-IgG by its local administration in a rat sciatic nerve injury model.


  • Confirmation that GFRα1 promotes axonal growth in vitro and in vivo and elucidation of its precise molecular mechanism.
  • Elucidation that local administration of rat GFRα1-IgG into a rat sciatic nerve improves electrophysiological, gait, and sensory functions after injury.




Ken Kadoya Associate Professor Hokkaido University Faculty of Medicine

Development Stage

This stage: We have confirmed the in vivo therapeutic effect of rat GFRα1-IgG fusion protein on a rat sciatic nerve injury.

Next step: We are looking for partners who can help us determine the efficacy of recombinant human GFRα1 protein on disorders in peripheral nerve and spinal cord by applying as a local administration drug or an artificial nerve modification protein.

Future step: We are aiming to apply this technology to the development of therapeutic drugs for peripheral nerve disorders caused by diabetes, renal disease, anti-cancer drug, ALS, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Product No. ON-04029


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