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Investment in Neuroscience Development Brings New Treatment Options to Help Patients

February 3, 2022Neelem Sheikh

There are many factors driving the increased investment in neuroscience development; however, the aging population appears to be the greatest driving factor causing investors to boldly venture into the neurological disease space.

In 1960, the global average life expectancy was just 50 years; as of 2021, this number has increased to 72.8 years. The fastest-growing age group in the world is now those aged 65 and older, and by the year 2040, this age group will account for 14.1% of the global population (1.3 billion individuals).

Investment in neuroscience development, alongside neurological disease research and clinical trials, will continue to open the door to new therapies for neurological disease treatment. Alzheimer’s disease is a perfect example of the growing neurological disease research surrounding pathological mechanisms, and consequently, new potential drug targets in clinical trials.

Below, we take a look into current and future targeted therapies for Alzheimer’s disease, the shift towards incorporating precision medicine approaches in neurology, and the need for further investment in neuroscience development.

Amyloid, Tau, and Beyond: Current and Future Targeted Therapies

Researchers have expanded our understanding of the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease, giving rise to many potential novel targets for disease-modifying therapies. The neuropathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease can be characterized as follows:

  • Positive lesions: tau hyperphosphorylation, beta-amyloid plaques, cerebral amyloid angiopathy, and glial responses
  • Negative lesions: neuronal loss and synaptic loss

Amyloid was one of the first targets to be explored, resulting in the approval of Aducanumab (ADUHELM™) in June of 2021. Aducanumab was the first in the monoclonal antibody therapy class and was the first FDA-approved treatment for Alzheimer’s to enter the market since 2003. However, it is not clear if the development and progression of beta-amyloid plaques directly correlate with neurocognitive decline. 

Many neurological disease experts believe that tau pathology more directly correlates with the neurocognitive decline that occurs in Alzheimer’s disease compared to beta-amyloid lesions, resulting in an influx of tau-targeting therapies to emerge in the pipeline. The pattern of tau aggregation in the brain appears to mimic the progressive loss of function in brain regions observed in those with Alzheimer’s disease.

According to the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation’s 2021 Alzheimer’s clinical trial report, an even wider range of targets are currently in the pipeline—an astounding 77% of the 118 disease-modifying trials have novel targets other than amyloid or tau. Some of the new targets in disease-modifying therapies include the following:

  • Neuroprotection
  • Inflammation
  • Mitochondria and metabolic dysfunction
  • Vascular disease
  • Synaptic activity and neurotransmitters
  • Genetics and epigenetics

A Shift Towards Incorporating Precision Medicine in Neurology

While some are wary about the amyloid-targeting approach, individual targets like amyloid and tau may be a single element of a much greater picture—the future of Alzheimer’s disease treatment may rely on precision medicine approaches and a combination therapy approach. This will likely hold true for many neurological diseases. 

Neurological diseases are complex, and their pathologies manifest themselves uniquely in each individual. Thus, understanding where a neurological disease patient precisely lies on a disease continuum as well as which specific brain regions and neurocognitive domains are particularly impacted will allow for a combination of specific targeted treatments to be utilized to provide the most effective treatment possible for a particular patient. 

Investment in Neuroscience Development: What’s Next?

While our understanding of neurological disease pathologies and treatment pathways has grown immensely, further investment in neuroscience development is needed to continue creating novel targeted drugs and therapies and bringing them to market. The following is needed to further neuroscience development:

Problem

Solutions

More financing is needed for candidate drugs

Further investment in neuroscience development

More patients are needed to participate in clinical trials

Ability to perform more decentralized neurological disease clinical trials

Need for better screening solutions in clinical trials

More sensitive biomarkers to reduce screening failure rate and identify patients who are a good fit

Need for improved data collection during drug trials to prove drug efficacy

More robust, granular data to assess small, intraindividual changes in neurocognitive function longitudinally

Altoida’s mission is to accelerate and improve drug development, neurological disease research, and patient care. To learn more about our precision-neurology platform and app-based medical device, contact us!

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