The Center for Neurologic Study provides investment capital, strategic advice, and mentoring to early-stage technology companies and academicians involved in research leading to the development of therapeutics or diagnostics in the field of neurodegenerative diseases. Specifically, these diseases include amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease), multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and Huntington’s disease. Other diseases leading to neuromuscular or cognitive decline will also be considered, as will traumatic brain injury and CNS infectious disorders that impact cognition and neuromuscular functions. Our mission is two-fold: to advance treatments for neurological disorders that have been underserved or overlooked by the research community and to provide a financial return for our organization and those that partner with us.
Across all therapeutic areas, drug discovery and development is a lengthy, expensive, and risky process. Nowhere, however, is this more true than in the area of central nervous system therapeutics, particularly those which would impact neurodegenerative diseases. Despite the fact that the prevalence of these disorders is growing, account for disability and substantial economic burden worldwide, and exact a significant emotional toll on both patients and caregivers, there are today few significant disease-altering therapies for treating neurodegenerative and kindred disorders. Although this area of drug discovery has the potential for significant commercial success, many pharmaceutical companies have either reduced their involvement or else have withdrawn completely from the field. The average cost of bringing a new drug to market in any disease area has been estimated to be greater than $1 billion. Even when successful, the time from the start of a discovery program to regulatory approval can take 12 to 15 years. Drugs intended to treat neurologic (or psychiatric) disorders, on average, have longer mean times to complete clinical trials and longer times to obtain regulatory approval. Moreover, compared with other disease areas, the failure rate for CNS drugs in late clinical stages is disproportionately high. This has resulted in a much lower regulatory approval rate for CNS therapeutics. No doubt, part of this is due to the complexity of studying the human brain, the difficulty of examining it directly in living patients, as well as a lack of predictive animal models and molecular biomarkers that can be used to evaluate safety and treatment efficacy. Overall, these scientific challenges together with the financial risks have discouraged new investment in treatments for brain disorders both in the United States and globally.
Discovering and meeting visionary entrepreneurs and scientists engaged in cutting-edge neuroscience projects is a critical step for angel investors. This is most easily accomplished in biotech “hubs” that contain a rich biopharmaceutical and academic research infrastructure, but CNS will fund compelling projects irrespective of their geographic locale. For practical reasons, communities such as San Diego, San Francisco, and Boston provide a rich opportunity for investment. The Center intends to capitalize on these business and scientific environments. Our organization is well-connected with neurologists, neuroscientists, and key decision-makers in the biopharmaceuticals industry, and uses this network to uncover promising investments.
The board of directors for the Center for Neurologic Study ultimately has responsibility for overseeing and approving all programs sponsored by the Center, including those involving angel investing. While CNS’s board will provide general oversight of its angel investing commitments, the decision regarding individual investments will be made by the Director of CNS and advisors, as needed, drawn from the biotech community.
The amount to be invested will be determined annually by the CNS Board of Directors based on the yearly investment returns of the CNS endowment. Based on this overall general funding level, the number of individual investments for the calendar year will be determined. As a matter of practice, our customary, initial investment is $150,000. Funded companies will be required to provide an annual progress report.