Neurodegenerative diseases represent one of the greatest challenges for health care providers today. Due to the anticipated increase in life expectancy, the prevalence of these diseases is expected to increase dramatically in the next decades posing a tremendous social and financial challenge for society. This shift in demographics represents an area of great medical need and an opportunity for biopharmaceutical companies that endeavor to bring new therapies to treat such diseases and aid patients in the management of their disease.
The human central nervous system (CNS) is an exquisitely complicated set of interconnected and cofunctioning structures. The CNS controls all vital functions in the body as well as coordinating movement, memory, sensation and information processing amongst others. During the aging process, some of these specific functions can become affected and gradually degenerate leading to common illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease.
Neurodegenerative diseases as diverse as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease share a common pathogenic mechanism involving the misfolding, aggregation and deposition of proteins, which leads to progressive destruction of parts of the central nervous system. Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent age-related neurodegenerative disorder affecting more than 15 million patients worldwide. The clinical signs of Alzheimer’s disease include the progressive loss of cognitive functions, particularly those related to memory, followed by death after 8 to 15 years of progressive decline.
The pathology of Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by distinctive features including amyloid plaques, neurofibrillary tangles, decreased synaptic density and loss of neurons. The main constituent of amyloid plaques is a small peptide, amyloid-beta, derived from the proteolytic cleavage of a membrane-spanning precursor protein. There is extensive evidence that the accumulation of aggregated forms of amyloid-beta is the key initiating event in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease driving the remainder of the pathological changes and neurodegeneration.
Through evolution, the human body has developed highly complex and effective mechanisms for protecting itself against invading foreign pathogens such as bacteria, viruses or fungi. From its impressive arsenal of weapons against attack, the immune system stands out as being the body’s most versatile line of defense.
The principle focus of Neurimmune is another feature of the immune system: its ability to generate antibodies targeted against pathologic modifications of the body’s own proteins and thereby protecting against the development or delaying the onset of a disease.