Innovative Therapeutics and Diagnostics for Neurodegenerative Diseases
Neurodegenerative Diseases are a group of mostly gradual, congenital or sporadic diseases of the nervous system. A characteristic feature is the damage of neurons causing various neurologic symptoms leading in many cases to dementia and movement disorders. These diseases occur in different age ranges, and cause characteristic histologic damage in the brain that can be either localised in one region or spread across multiple regions. Examples of neurodegenerative diseases are Alzheimer and Parkinson disease.
The frequency of neurodegenerative diseases is possibly going to increase more and more in the future due to increased life expectancy. Currently, more than 30 million people are affected by these diseases worldwide. In Germany alone about one million patients suffer from dementia. So far there is no established therapy to prevent the progression of the disease.
Epilepsy is a disease with spontaneously developed spasms. Epileptic seizures are the consequence of synchronic discharges of groups of neurones in the brain. This leads to involuntary stereotypical behaviour and health disorders. Worldwide more than 50 million people are impacted by this disease. Epilepsy has various effects on the every day life of the patients which should also be considered in the treatment.
Most of the currently approved medicines have an impact on several symptoms at best, but do not change the fateful course of this disease. In addition, currently available diagnostic methods only allow a diagnosis in the late stage of the disease. The final diagnosis is mostly made, after death during the autopsy. Therefore innovative medicines and diagnostic methods are urgently needed to enable a rational and effective therapy at the earliest possible point in time of the course of disease.
Most therapies can only temporarily alleviate mental or motor dysfunctions caused by the disease or slow down the course of the disease – if at all – only slightly. The treatment of epilepsy generally consists of administration of medicines suppressing seizures. However, more than 1/3 of the patients are still not seizure free despite polytherapy.
Early Diagnostics and Medication
The medical need for innovative medicines as well as significant methods for early diagnosis is therefore very high. Due to the extensive requirements to develop such approaches many pharmaceutical companies classify investments in this area as exceptionally risky.