Parkinson’s Disease Pipeline Looks Promising

Market analysts see shift to disease-modifying therapies

The drug-development pipeline for Parkinson’s disease (PD) offers a more-promising treatment landscape compared with the current market, according to a report from business intelligence provider GBI Research.

Levodopa is currently the gold standard therapy for PD, with other drug classes, including dopamine agonists and monoamine oxidase B (MAO-B) inhibitors, also used to treat early and advanced disease. None of the current treatments, however, are able to delay the course of the disease, and PD remains incurable. This unmet need is reflected in the pipeline, where a high proportion of early-stage first-in-class programs target the potential pathogenic mechanisms underlying neurodegeneration. A total of 365 programs are active across all stages of development and a wide range of molecular targets, according to GBI.

“The Parkinson’s disease treatment pipeline is characterized by a high level of innovation compared to the central nervous system segment and the industry as a whole, with 43% of all pipeline programs with disclosed molecular targets being first-in-class,” said analyst Angel Wong. “While neuromodulators remain dominant in the pipeline, there are a number of targets which address different pathogenic mechanisms underlying neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s disease. This demonstrates a shift from traditional symptomatic treatments to disease-modifying therapies.”

Wong added that since the majority of potentially disease-modifying treatments are in the early stages of development, they are expected to fulfill a major unmet need in the PD market in the long term.

“Several first-in-class products have demonstrated promising preclinical evidence and have significant potential to become game-changing products,” she said.

PD is the second-most-common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s disease, affecting approximately 7.4 million people worldwide. It is caused by the progressive loss of dopamine-producing neurons in the substantia nigra, located in the basal ganglia. The main motor symptoms are tremors, bradykinesia, and rigidity. As the disease progresses, symptoms and complications can cause severe disability.

Source: GBI Research; January 12, 2016.