The state of commercial neuroscience

NeuroInsights have released a report on the neurotechnology industry that uncovers the growing market for brain-based goods and services.

The 350 page report will set you back $4,500 (that’s almost $13 dollars a page!), but has been summarised by Zack Lynch, the company’s managing director, on his blog.

Some of the highlights include:

2006 venture capital investment in neurotechnology rose 7.5% to $1.666 billion

Neurotech industry revenues rose 10% in 2006 to $120.5 billion; this includes neuropharmaceutical revenues of $101 billion, neurodevice revenues of $4.5 billion, neurodiagnostic revenues of $15 billion

The Neurotech Index of publicly-traded neurotechnology companies was up 53% from its December 31, 2003 conception to March 31, 2006, outpacing the NASDAQ Biotech Index which gained 7% during the same period

In other words, the brain is big money, and it’s only likely to get bigger.

Needless to say, this makes us, the brain-owning public, equally blessed and cursed.

Commercial companies want us to spend our money on their products, meaning as well as developing technologies, they are likely to promote new ideas of well-being or ill-health to motivate us to use them.

This also tends to mean that problems faced by those with money (i.e. people in developed countries) get priority over the problems more typical of less developed countries.

So, treaments for diseases endemic in the developing world, like sleeping sickness, caused by trypanosoma infection and leading to brain disorder and eventual death, will likely be slow in coming.

However, we can be sure that some new advances in commercial neuroscience will be of huge benefit to many people.

The difficulty for us, and the investors, is that sometimes it is only clear which of the advances is significant with the benefit of hindsight.

Link to NeuroInsights industry report with free executive summary.
Link to Zack Lynch’s summary and comments.

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