The Ultimate Cure
by David Ewing Duncan
"The neurotech industry is engaged in a $2 trillion race to fix your brain. Many players will fail, but the payoff will be huge for those who succeed."
"Neurotech’s returns are already enormous. In 2006, the industry brought in more than $120 billion—about $101 billion from drugs and the rest from neurodevices ($4.5 billion) and neurodiagnostics ($15 billion)—up 10 percent from the previous year, reports NeuroInsights, a market research and investment advisory firm. But industry analysts insist that this figure hardly begins to suggest the potential. For Alzheimer’s, a disease currently without an effective treatment for about 4.5 million sufferers in the U.S., 40 companies—including behemoths like Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, and Wyeth, as well as Targacept and a gaggle of similar upstarts—are testing 48 new drugs in human trials in a quest for the Prozac of dementia. The push has brought many small to midsize biotech firms together in partnerships with larger pharmaceutical companies to pursue everything from pain-control compounds derived from chili peppers to an antistroke medicine developed from vampire-bat saliva. There is so much activity in neurotech that last fall it got its own index, NERV, on the Nasdaq, tracking the performance of 30 leading brain companies based in the United States. Analysts estimate that the sector should continue to grow by about 10 percent a year, which would produce a brain-industrial complex worth more than $300 billion in the next 10 years."
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