Editor’s Focus: Alzheimer’s looms large in neuroscience

Market research suggests that neurology-related pharma and biotech R&D is going to be dominated by Alzheimer's disease for some time

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I think it’s safe to say that in the area of neuroscience within the pharma/biotech R&D realm, Alzheimer’s disease is going to be dominating for some time. Obviously, we cover a number of other issues within neuroscience in this magazine, like Parkinson’s disease, autism and multiple sclerosis—and occasionally we get some gems in more psychological areas like depression, anxiety and schizophrenia—but Alzheimer’s is the one that shows up in my inbox the most.
And, if predictions from data and analytics company GlobalData hold true, that’s not changing any time soon—it estimates that drug sales related to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) will reach $12.9 billion in 2028 in the eight major markets, driven in large part by launches of new pipeline agents.
As a point of comparison, drug sales for AD and MCI collectively totaled $2.2 billion in 2018, so that would mean a whopping compound annual growth rate of more than 19 percent.
As noted by GlobalData, the current competitive landscape in AD consists only of symptomatic treatments, of which there are currently six approved medications: three ChEIs (donepezil, rivastigmine and galantamine), one NMDA-R antagonist (memantine), one combination therapy (memantine/donepezil) and one Aβ A4 protein inhibitor (sodium oligomannate).
“Improvements to the approved therapies such as easier routes of administration and reduced dosing frequencies, along with the developments that are expected to occur within the next decade, could have a significant effect on the way the disease is managed,” the company noted.
That’s the good news. The bad news is we still have no actual cure in sight yet. Also, biologics may struggle, said Alessio Brunello, a senior pharma analyst at GlobalData, who points out that “Due to their additional cost, GlobalData believes that the uptake of biologics will initially be low compared with other medications, especially in the more advanced stages of the disease where these therapies are believed to have less of an effect.”
But even if AD is still the king, many other conditions hold court as well, and we will continue to keep you up to date on them as well.
To that end, we have a Focus Feature this issue beginning on page 15 that is devoted to neuroscience R&D, from mapping the brain more effectively to understanding autism better. Sadly, that feature begins with the news that the Neuroscience 2020 conference has been canceled, with no rescheduling planned and no virtual version in the works. Normally, this would have been the issue in which we would preview that conference, but instead we can bring you more neuroscience discovery and development news than we otherwise would have been able.
So, try to find the bright spots. Alzheimer’s will continue to plague us for some time, but we’re getting better at treating it...and Neuroscience 2020 may be off, but the neuroscience research news goes on.

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