Neurotrophins regulate cell survival, death, differentiation and growth. Neurotrophins and their receptors have been validated for pathologies including neurodegenerative disorders of the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system, certain types of cancers, asthma, inflammation and others. Development of neurotrophin-based therapeutics is important due to the limitations of using whole neurotrophins as pharmacological agents. The use of mimicry has proven to be an alternative. Mimetics can be developed through a number of different approaches. To develop receptor-binding agents, we have used anti-receptor antibody mimicry and neurotrophin mimicry. To develop ligand-binding agents, we have used antiligand antibody mimicry and receptor mimicry. High-throughput screening can be incorporated to complement any of these approaches. The end result is small molecule peptidomimetics with properties favourable over proteins. The present review will offer a general overview of these strategies with a few proven examples from our laboratory.

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