Top-10 Neuroscience Trends of 2007

In anticipation of The Society for Neuroscience Conference beginning tomorrow in San Diego, CA, The Neurotechnology Industry Organization (NIO) has released a top-10 list of emerging areas of neuroscience.

The top-10 trends of 2007, expected to heavily influence the future treating brain and nervous-system disorders, are as follows:

1. Advancing discovery tools underpin innovation: Beyond biochips and brain imaging, recent advances in neuroinformatics, image-based neural circuit analysis, and neural computation are accelerating the pace of neuroscientific discovery beyond what was imagined a decade ago.

2. Neuroimmunology leading to new treatment targets: The discovery that immune molecules play a crucial role in shaping neuronal connections opens up new treatment targets for Alzheimer’s, autism, ALS, Parkinson’s, schizophrenia, and nerve injury.

3. National Neurotechnology Initiative: Momentum is growing for the new $200 million/year federal R&D initiative aimed at accelerating translational neurotech innovation and improving the effectiveness of FDA review process for neuroscience drugs, devices and diagnostics.

4. Neurodevice interfaces improve prosthetics and treatments: Advanced brain-machine interfaces enable the severely handicapped to independently compose e-mails and operate a TV in their homes. Other neurodevices provide functional stimulation for the treatment of pain, Parkinson’s, obesity, and psychiatric disorders.

5. Addiction advances: New research clarifies the role of drugs on sleep, cocaine’s potency, and the brain changes that occur due to abuse leading to new treatment strategies for this epidemic impacting over 1.1 billion worldwide.

6. Normal aging brain gets more attention: More research and development is being focused on thinking impairments that only partially limit independence and quality of life for senior citizens, adults and school aged children. Neurosoftware will penetrate nursing homes and schools, as brain fitness software becomes new first-line treatment strategy.

7. Regenerating the spinal cord: New experimental therapies in development could open the doors for research to improve treatments for people with spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, stroke, and other severe movement disorders.

8. Prevention evidence grows: You are what you eat; smoking is as bad as we thought; and new studies reveal the effects of environmental substances on Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and others.

9. Emotional disorders research advances: New research continues to link neurogenesis to treatment of depression. A better understanding of PTSD should lead to new treatment regimes.

10. Neuroscience infiltrates society: From neuroeconomics to neuroesthetics to neuroethics and neurolaw, the influence of neuroscience on society continues to grow.

According to NIO — which represents the 500 drug, device and diagnostics companies that are developing treatments for the brain and nervous system — the economic burden of brain-related disorders has reached more than $1 trillion in the U.S. alone. Worldwide, roughly two billion people suffer from brain-related illnesses.

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