About the sector - EUON
Health - Neurodegenerative disease - About the sector - text web content
Neurodegenerative diseases cover a range of conditions which primarily affect the neurons in the human brain. Neurons are building blocks of the nervous system, which includes the brain and the spinal cord. Examples of neurodegenerative diseases include Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, motor neurone diseases, spinocerebellar ataxia, spinal muscular atrophy and Huntington’s disease. Neurodegenerative diseases are incurable and debilitating conditions that result in progressive degeneration or death of nerve cells. This causes problems with movement (ataxias) or mental functioning (dementias).1
The WHO has declared that neurodegenerative diseases will be the biggest health issue of this century. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases are considered the most acute incurable neurological disorders.2 They are among the most common neurodegenerative conditions with an estimated economic burden of EUR 9 million in 2022 in Europe.3 Alzheimer’s and other dementias accounted for 5% of all deaths in 2017 in the EU member states and affected more women than men.4
Drug delivery to the brain has remained a challenge in the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders due to the blood-brain barrier, which strongly impedes drug transport to the brain. Nanoparticles are regarded as an ideal drug delivery system into an inaccessible organ like the brain. The use of nanotechnology in drug delivery has opened opportunities for scientists to develop better therapeutic agent delivery devices for the central nervous system. Nano-fabricated smart drug delivery systems and implantable drug-loaded biomaterials for brain repair are a couple of examples of the latest nanotechnology approaches to treat neurodegenerative disorders. Recent studies on neural drug discovery and injectable hydrogels also provide a potential new treatment option for these disorders.5
1 JPND Research (n.d.) What is neurogenerative disease? Available at: https://www.neurodegenerationresearch.eu/what/
2 Asefy, Z., Hoseinnejhad, S., & Ceferov, Z. (2021). Nanoparticles approaches in neurodegenerative diseases diagnosis and treatment. Neurological Sciences, 42(7), 2653-2660.
3 EATRIS (2021). EPND – European Platform for Neurodegenerative Disorders. Available at: https://eatris.eu/projects/european-platform-for-neurodegenerative-disorders-2/
4 OECD & European Union (2020). Health at a glance: Europe 2020: State of health in the EU cycle. Available at: https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/social-issues-migration-health/health-at-a-glance-europe-2020_82129230-en
5 Akhtar, A., Andleeb, A., Waris, T. S., Bazzar, M., Moradi, A. R., Awan, N. R., & Yar, M. (2021). Neurodegenerative diseases and effective drug delivery: A review of challenges and novel therapeutics. Journal of Controlled Release, 330, 1152-1167.