The fundamental role of polypeptide growth factors in stimulating the proliferation of cells and in regulating cell growth (both positively and negatively) has been increasingly appreciated in the last several years (see The Scientist, October 31, page 13). The first growth factor to be discovered—nerve growth factor, in 1951—was initially thought to be an isolated phenomenon. But over the last decade, several other growth factors have been characterized. The study of growth factors now represents an exciting frontier in biology.

This interest has been intensifled by the possible utility of growth factors or their antagonists in the treatment of a variety of diseases—including cancer and atherosclerosis—and of wounds. Several biotechnology companies are engaged in developing the recombinant technology to produce growth factors in large quantity, and to find medical applications for them. Wound healing is the area where the therapeutic utility of growth factors is best defined and closest...

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