YUVEDO Foundation Focus Project in cooperation with kENUP Foundation.

The NERA expert report: Limits to the Development of Causal Treatments in Neurodegenerative Diseases – Indications for Market Failure ? (includes summary in German)
as well as
YUVEDO Foundation’s official press release on the expert report

Neurodegenerative diseases (NDD) are characterized by the successive death of nerve cells in the central nervous system. If the brain is no longer able to compensate for this loss, we are looking at a neurodegenerative disease, such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. As these conditions are often associated with ageing processes, societies undergoing demographic change in particular are struggling with the effects. Between 1990 and 2005, the number of people with Parkinson’s disease doubled to over six million worldwide. According to estimates, this number will rise to 40 million by 2040. The risk of contracting Parkinson’s disease or having already contracted the disease during their lifetime is increasingly significant for the reader of these lines.  Fortunately, the clues to the causes of the pandemic are all around us. What is missing is a willingness to act.” (Dorsey et. al., The Emerging Evidence of the Parkinson Pandemic, Journal of Parkinson’s Disease 8 (2018) S3-S8).

Despite this predictable medical, social and economic challenge, too little has happened in recent years to address the underlying causes of neurodegenerative diseases.


NDDs are treated today in almost the same way as 30 years ago. There are neither causal therapies nor vaccines, and symptomatic therapies are a relatively “good business”. As a result, there is not enough applied research on causal therapies or vaccines, either by big pharmaceutical companies or by biotech start-ups. 

The German Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) confirms this view: “We share your concern regarding industrial commitment to the development of new therapies for neurodegenerative diseases; modifying therapies are lacking for both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Although several studies have been completed, no effective cure has yet been found. Many pharmaceutical companies have withdrawn from investment and research in drugs or biologicals for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.“ 

Consequently, coordination via the market does not lead to the consistent allocation of the available research resources in the fight against NDDs. The complexity of neurodegenerative diseases (Parkinson’s disease is considered multivariant, multisystemic and multicausal) is considered a major cause of the long series of failures in recent decades (Amgen’s R&D boss David Reese: “The industry has a fairly rudimentary understanding of neurodegenerative diseases”). It is assumed that this complexity, together with the much longer development times and approval procedures and the disproportionately higher development costs, form the core of a market failure in the development of causal or disease-modifying therapies. The YUVEDO Foundation, with the support of private donors, will commission a scientific study on the causes of the market failure in the field of therapy development for NDD.