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Tackling Neurological Disorders in New Ways

04/18/2018

Today, there more than 500 medicines in development for numerous, wide-ranging neurological disorders, including chronic pain, MS, Alzheimer's and ALS.

 

Chronic pain. Alzheimer’s disease. Multiple Sclerosis. Brain tumors.

 

These are some of the most well-known and prevalent diseases afflicting the more than 100 million Americans who are impacted by a neurological disorder. Additionally, many more rare conditions exist, experienced by just a small number of patients. Together, they add up to more than 1,000 neurological disorders that affect nearly a third of the U.S. population.

Moreover, these numbers will likely grow. According to a recent study, the cost and incidence of neurological disorders is expected to increase as the population age 65 and over is projected to nearly double by 2050. Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis and other disorders of the brain affect one in six people around the world, driving a demand for innovative solutions. Now, it is more important than ever to find new treatments that both modify and prevent neurological disease.

 

Yet there is hope on the horizon. Innovation is resulting in a rapid pace of medical breakthroughs and scientific advancements. Today, biopharmaceutical research companies are developing 537 medicines for numerous, wide-ranging neurological disorders.

 

“Just as cancer has progressed from being a death sentence to often being treatable and in some cases curable, the next few decades will see far more effective treatments for a variety of neurological diseases,” says Doug Williamson, chief medical officer and vice president of U.S. drug development at Lundbeck.

Examples of innovative treatments in development include:

  • A medicine is in development for the prevention of migraine headaches, which binds to and inhibits the activity of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP). CGRP is expressed in the nervous system, where it plays a role in controlling the dilation of blood vessels and the transmission of neuropathic pain signals.
  • Several medicines in development for Alzheimer’s are disease-modifying treatments that may stop or slow down the progression by targeting one or more of the changes in the brain associated with the condition.
  • A medicine in development for multiple sclerosis targets a protein that is involved in the repair of myelin, the protective sheath covering nerve fibers. The medicine could support the growth of myelin and restore nerve communication in multiple sclerosis patients.

Scientists are uncovering more about how the nervous system works at the molecular and genetic levels, and many of these medicines in development represent a growing understanding of the underlying mechanisms of neurological disorders. Of the 537 medicines in development, 76 are for the treatment of chronic pain, which affects more than 25 million Americans. Ninety-five are for the treatment brain tumors, 92 for Alzheimer’s disease, 46 for Parkinson’s disease, 36 for epilepsy and 27 are for headache and migraine. Other medicines are directed at multiple sclerosis, genetic disorders, stroke and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

 

“The fact is there is no one answer for every patient, so we’re continually working to connect the right treatment at the right time to the right patient to help transform the lives of people living with severe diseases,” says Jeff Wren, executive vice president and head of the neurology patient value unit at UCB.

 

Learn more about the more than 500 medicines in development for numerous, wide-ranging neurological disorders.