Viktor Hamburger and Rita Levi-Montalcini: the path to the discovery of nerve growth factor.

@article{Cowan2001ViktorHA,
  title={Viktor Hamburger and Rita Levi-Montalcini: the path to the discovery of nerve growth factor.},
  author={William Maxwell Cowan},
  journal={Annual review of neuroscience},
  year={2001},
  volume={24},
  pages={
          551-600
        }
}
  • W. Cowan
  • Published 2001
  • Biology
  • Annual review of neuroscience
The announcement in October 1986 that the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine was to be awarded to Rita Levi-Montalcini and Stanley Cohen for the discoveries of NGF and EGF, respectively, caused many to wonder why Viktor Hamburger (in whose laboratory the initial work was done) had not been included in the award. Now that the dust has settled, the time seems opportune to reconsider the antecedent studies on the relation of the developing nervous system to the peripheral structures it… 
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This paper explores how Hamburger walked this thin line between mechanistic reductionism and metaphysical vitalism in light of his work on the factors influencing growth of neurons into limb buds, and the discovery of nerve growth factor, work carried out with Rita Levi-Montalcini and Stanley Cohen.
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Because Viktor Hamburger's accomplishments have been summarized in more conventional form so frequently and so well, it is decided to share accounts of some of the happy accidents and coincidences in his life that he so much enjoyed telling us about.
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  • Psychology
    Journal of the history of biology
  • 2004
TLDR
This paper explores how Hamburger walked this thin line between mechanistic reductionism and metaphysical vitalism in light of his work on the factors influencing growth of neurons into limb buds, and the discovery of nerve growth factor, work carried out with Rita Levi-Montalcini and Stanley Cohen.
Early days of the nerve growth factor proteins.
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  • Biology, Chemistry
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  • 2001
TLDR
Adult male mouse submaxillary glands served as the preferred starting material for the isolation of the nerve growth factor (NGF) proteins in most of the isolation studies done, and no other source of NGF has been convincingly shown to synthesize the alpha and gamma subunits, and they may well be irrelevant to NGFs actions.
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The story of NGF is more like a detective story than a scientific enterprise, since science usually unfolds according to well-defined rules, along the route paved by previous findings, but each finding has signaled a new turning point and opened up a new perspective.
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This joint paper corroborated the findings reported by Levi-Montalcini and established that nerve degeneration is an integral part of development.
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A disclaimer of personal merit, such as phrased above by Lwoff, is not a disclaimer of the significance of a phenomenon that chance rather than calculated search has brought to one’s attention, and
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TLDR
The paper provided the first evidence that nerve growth factor is a diffusible substance, and ends with two possible conclusions for the mechanism of nerve growth, the tumor may have been directly stimulating the ganglia by a Diffusible signal, or it may have reduced the resistance of the chick tissues to the nerve growth.
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Reduction of the naturally occurring motor neuron loss by enlargement of the periphery
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