A possible strategy for preventing or treating Alzheimer’s disease and other brain and spinal cord damage has been uncovered by researchers.

The study team, from the San Francisco Veteran Administration Medical Center and the University of North Carolina, identified several compounds that reportedly could play a role in treating degenerative conditions of the nervous system.

The compounds bind with a receptor found in the brain and spinal cord, providing a binding site in the body for molecules known as neurotrophins. But, other studies show the molecules that usually promote brain cell growth can also kill them.

Now that the compounds have been identified, scientists believe they could provide a new binding site, a new means of preventing damage that neurotrophins otherwise would cause.

The study appears in the current issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.