Public-Private Partnerships and Neurological Diseases

Public-Private Partnerships Hold Key to Future Treatment of Neurologic Diseases

08.16.13 | By John Castellani

Despite the great medical advances of the last century, there is still a lot of work to be done when it comes to developing medications and treatments to deal with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. These conditions pose vexing challenges for researchers trying to unlock the secrets that will improve the lives of millions living with the daily challenges that neurological diseases pose.

Public-private partnerships have proven invaluable in in addressing medical challenges, convening researchers from academia and industry in search of root causes of diseases and developing new ways to treat them. Given the huge task of combing through and synthesizing the ever-growing reams of research data available, public-private partnerships are crucial to future medical breakthroughs and that’s why we posed this week’s Conversations question:

How can we better utilize public-private partnerships to advance translation of science into new medicines for some of our most challenging diseases, such as neurological disorders?

In the coming years, neurological diseases will become an ever greater public health issue. As Amy Comstock Rick, CEO of the Parkinson’s Action Network, pointed out in her response to this week’s question, the economic burden of Parkinson’s disease is at least $14.4 billion per year in the U.S., on top of the personal burden exacted on the 500,000 to 1.5 million Americans living with the disease. And the number of Alzheimer’s disease cases is expected to triple in the next 40 years, with annual costs reaching $1.2 trillion by 2050.

One of the great traits of public-private partnerships is that they are all different. These relationships are continually adapting and evolving as necessary, taking advantage of each partner’s strengths in pursuit of answers to some of medicine’s most challenging issues. Stevin Zorn from Lundbeck illustrated this in his response to the question. As Stevin explains, NIH is very adept at understanding disease and generating background knowledge about the underlying basis of disease, but is limited with taking that information and knowledge and developing effective treatments for diseases. Working together, federal organizations, such as NIH, and biopharmaceutical companies,  such as Lundbeck, can lean on each other’s expertise to do more than either could accomplish individually.

Public-private partnerships extend beyond the confines of the research and development lab. Randy Rutta of Easter Seals discussed the Easter Seals Brain Health Center as a “nexus of information” that draws on a national network of service providers to expand awareness of how people can use new and emerging brain training regimens to improve cognitive function.

While the answers to some of the more vexing medical challenges won’t be easy to find, one thing is certain: we will keep hunting for them. By bringing together the best minds from throughout the health care ecosystem to work collaboratively and share ideas, we get closer and closer to new treatments or cures for neurological diseases.

We see this Conversations forum as one small part of the ongoing dialogue in search of answers. We encourage you to join us by sharing your thoughts in the comment section or becoming a contributor. In the meantime, stay tuned for the next Conversations question. 


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