The Neurology Market: A Glance (video)

The plethora of recent reports of new genes and pathways linked to neurological diseases shows that the underlying causes of these diseases are far from certain. As a result, therapeutic strategies in effect today, may soon be superseded by new approaches. The key to future success in this therapy area is a better understanding of the underlying biomarkers, genes, and disease pathways that lead to disease.

OneMedForum SF 2011 featured a panel of leading strategic/venture investors and industry veterans who explored the most appealing therapeutic areas and technologies for investment in 2011. Panelists  discussed what it takes for a neurology-related company to succeed in today’s challenging economic and regulatory climate.

The panel was moderated by Joseph E. Balagot, the Senior Managing Director of Investment Banking at Dawson James Securities, Inc.

Frank Fischer, CEO of NeuroPace Inc. began the conversation stating, “It’s interesting to look at the parallels of where the cardiology business was in the late 70’s…and the development of pacemakers. The state of development in the device industry in neurology is very similar to the feel of those years where devices from a neuromodulation perspective are in the form of periodic or continuous stimulation.” He continued, “[At NeuroPace] we’re sensing the EEG for epilepsy and being able to determine when it is likely that an epileptic seizure will result and then delivering stimulation to disrupt that activity.”

Currently, the neuromodulation market in the aggregate is in the tens of billions with the spinal chord stimulation market well over a billion dollars by itself.

Denise Barbut, Founder of Benechill introduced the cooling technology, a hot topic in neurology. “It is a platform technology that will work for a number of different conditions,” she stated. “Stroke and neurostimulation are both interesting fields though one has to be careful… to start with the premise that you want a disease, an indication that requires a treatment first and then find the appropriate device to treat it and not the other way around as engineers want to do.”

Jeffrey Erb, Director Business Development, Alliances and IP Mgmt at Medtronic discussed drug delivery, his area of expertise. “As the pharmaceutical and biotech industry continue to develop identifying new targets, one of their challenges is side affects from systemic delivery, but also dealing with the blood/brain barrier,” he said. “[Medtronic] has pump technology that can deliver protein therapies for a chronic situation or acute therapy such as gene therapy to the brain for neurodegenerative diseases.  Medtronic is uniquely positioned to partner with leading biotech and pharmaceutical companies for these combination device therapies.”

Michael R. Henson, General Partner at Medfocus Fund added to the discussion. “The key thing that is impacting the neurovascular market is going to be the FDA and how they look at these treatments. In the late 90’s all of these interventional products could be approved in less than 90 days. Those same devices now take from 9 to 12 months and many of them now require clinical trials… so as an investor in terms of getting involved in these markets, the FDA is going to weigh heavily on the type of investment it takes to move these products to market and through the approval process.”

Too many small biotechs have too few products of unknown quality to entice investors in a tight money market to invest. Companies are scouring early-stage technology opportunities for breakthrough technologies and innovative product candidates.

Medical companies making advancements in the field of neurology include but are not limited to Adeona, BioVista, Compumedics, Curemark, Cytori Therapeutics, EM Kinetics, Immunome, IntelGenx, Intellewave, Jan Medical, KC Biomedix, LifeSpine, Neurotez, New World Laboratories, Oxygen, Pico-Tesla, Sernova, Tibion Bionic, Tonix, Velomedix, and Intellect Neurosciences.

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