There is a very alarming gap in brain space. Central Nervous System (CNS) diseases are rightly seen as “the plague of the 21st century,” with nearly 100 million people in the United States alone suffering from CNS disorders, resulting in an annual economic cost of more than US$760 billion. In Europe, these disorders affect 38 percent of the citizenry and account for a third of the overall disease burden on society. At the same time, six of the ten largest pharmaceutical companies sharply reduced their CNS-targeted drug development efforts in the 2009–2013 timeframe.
Dr. Bar-On’s article deals with the unique challenges of the brain field and the obstacles that have so far led to the situation where we have no cure or disease-modifying therapy for any brain disorder, resulting in a massive abandonment of the field by big Pharma firms. Fortunately, 2015 showed signs of growing interest in brain cure R&D, expressed in new initiatives and innovation models set to bring industry, government, and academia back into the complex game of Neuroscience. This auspicious development has been empowered by a number of factors:
- The appearance of new tools – e.g., Big Data analysis – which significantly increase the chances for a quantum leap in the next few years
- Promising early indications from trials of two new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease
- New models for incubating CNS innovation collaborations at the industry/academia interface
These new developments could bring the search for desperately needed cures back on track, offering new hope to brain disorder sufferers.
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Appeared in the issue: Coller Venture Review — 2016 -3 — Deep Innovation Issue