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Report: More Than 400 Drugs in Development to Treat Neurological Disorders

Monoclonal antibodies play key role in research

Biopharmaceutical research companies in the U.S. are currently developing 420 medications for patients with neurological disorders, including epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), and Parkinson’s disease. As highlighted in a joint report from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and the Epilepsy Foundation, scientists are collaborating to find new or more-effective treatments for patients with these complex disorders.

Neurological disorders consist of more than 600 conditions, which affect an estimated 50 million Americans each year. Although some of these conditions are well known, many are rare disorders that affect a small number of patients who currently have access to few –– if any –– effective treatments.

The new report demonstrates how the newest advances seek to treat the underlying mechanisms of neurological disorders. Examples of treatments currently in development include:

  • A monoclonal antibody that inhibits the activity of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP). Research suggests that CGRP pathways may be involved in the development of migraines and that, by inhibiting CGRP activity, anti-CGRP antibodies help inhibit the transmission of pain signals associated with migraines.
  • A medication for Huntington’s disease that targets the PDE10A enzyme, which is present in the brain neurons most damaged in this inherited disorder.
  • A monoclonal antibody for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is an inhibitor of the protein Nogo-A. The antibody may help keep motor neurons and muscle fibers connected in the hope that it will slow or stop disease progression.
  • A monoclonal antibody for relapsing MS that targets a protein involved in the development of myelin, a protective sheath that covers nerve fibers. This antibody could help restore nerve communication in MS patients.

With 420 drugs in human clinical trials or under review by the FDA, these new treatments represent a growing understanding of neurological disorders that will ultimately provide patients and their families with better therapeutic options, the PhRMA says.

Sources: PhRMA; May 13, 2015; and PhRMA Report; 2015.

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