As a treatment for anemia, erythropoietin has been one of the most successful biotech products, providing billions of dollars in revenue for Amgen Inc. and Johnson & Johnson. Last week, an international group of researchers sponsored by JNJ company Ortho Biotech Inc. began to define a seemingly unrelated function of EPO: the protection of neurons under stress.

Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Experimental Medicine and colleagues reported that in rat models of brain injury, EPO inhibited apoptosis that