More than 20 leading pharmaceutical, medical device, and diagnostic companies, along with major academic brain research centers and patient advocacy groups, have joined together to form a new trade association called the Neurotechnology Industry Organization (NIO). Based in San Francisco, NIO is a nonprofit group created to accelerate the development of treatments and cures for brain and nervous system diseases.

The $110 billion neurotechnology industry includes pharmaceuticals, biologics, cell-based therapeutics and medical devices, as well as diagnostic and surgical equipment for critical unmet needs including: Alzheimer’s, addiction, anxiety, depression, epilepsy, hearing loss, insomnia, multiple sclerosis, obesity, pain, Parkinson’s, schizophrenia, stroke and other brain-related illnesses.

“Despite the clear need and significant market opportunity, neurotechnology companies face a host of issues that stifle innovation, growth and rapid delivery of effective therapies. NIO will provide a collective voice for commercial neuroscience organizations to address these issues,” says Zack Lynch, founder and executive director of NIO. “We will kick off our first year with a global awareness campaign highlighting the industry’s progress and a public policy tour for members to interact with government officials.”

Over 1.5 billion people worldwide and nearly 100 million Americans suffer from a brain or nervous system illness. In addition to untold human suffering, the annual economic burden has reached over $1 trillion worldwide with $300 billion a year in the US alone. This burden is accelerating as the population ages and population increases. These factors are creating unprecedented demand for treatments that delay, prevent and cure chronic neurological and psychiatric diseases.

The 500 companies involved in commercial neuroscience face fundamentally different investment requirements, research and development challenges, and regulatory milestones than other life science and healthcare companies. NIO was created to help governments, patients, and the public understand the unique needs of the neurotech industry.

Founding member organizations span a broad spectrum of drug, device, and diagnostic companies from across the world unified by common interests. They include: Acumen Pharmaceuticals (San Francisco), Amarin Corp (London), Brain Resource Company (Sydney, Australia), Ceregene (San Diego), Cyberkinetics Neurotechnology Systems Inc (Boston), NeuroPace (Mountain View, Calif), NeuroNova AB (Stockholm, Sweden), Sound Pharmaceuticals (Seattle), Targacept Inc (Winston-Salem, NC), and United Therapeutics (Silver Spring, Md); neuroscience research centers including: Allen Institute for Brain Science (Seattle), Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute (Morgantown, WVa), McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT (Cambridge, Mass), and the MIND Institute (Albuquerque, NM); patient advocacy groups and research foundations including: Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (New York), Epilepsy Therapy Development Project (Reston, Va) and Neurotech Network (Tampa, Fla); venture capital firms NeuroVentures (Charlottesville, Va) and Technology Partners (Palo Alto, Calif); and strategic partner Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds LLP (Washington, DC).

[SOURCE: Business Wire, October 2006]