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Biotechnology Venture Investing and Neurodegenerative Medicine: Promise of New Approaches to Cure an Ailing Model

Neurodegenerative diseases are one of the leading public health challenges of the next 50 years. Pharmaceutical therapies have traditionally targeted the later stages of neurodegenerative diseases; however, this strategy - as the recent failures of clinical trials for Alzheimer’s drugs have highlighted - has been unsuccessful. Venture capital has underperformed as well during this time, as many new companies have been unable to maintain growth once they reach the public market and have produced less than desirable returns. As a result, venture capitalists have opted for later-stage financing. Nevertheless, new technologies are being developed to answer the question of how to best address neurodegeneration. New tools of detection will allow for much earlier diagnosis and a much greater chance of discovering and applying effective treatments. Realizing that genetic knowledge is insufficient to produce innovative treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, scientists have begun to apply the genetic knowledge attained towards a future of individualized treatments. As these new tools of detection converge with an increased ability to create very precise individual solutions, the risk of successful future investments should come down and provide the potential for outsized returns that have traditionally governed the venture capital financial model.