Although the focus of this publication since our first issue was published in 2001 has been neurotechnology devices that mate electronics technology with nervous system function, it is impossible to ignore the presence of neuropharmaceutical companies in many of the same market segments in which device companies compete. As Warren Grill points out in his article on page 1 of this issue, patch clamp technology represents one viable example of how device manufacturers can team up with drug developers targeting the nervous system.
Patch clamp systems operate at the junction between drugs and devices since they help explore the activity at ion channels within the membrane of neural cells. In this domain, it is equally relevant to think of the movement of a sodium or potassium ion in either electrical or chemical terms. By increasing the throughput of compounds under investigation that can be processed by these systems, manufacturers like Molecular Devices and Sophion Bioscience have helped streamline the drug development process.
Patch clamp systems are not the only area of collaboration between neuro device and drug firms. Neurosensing firms such as Aspect Medical and CNS Response are developing electrophysiological markers that promise to help drug manufacturers pinpoint the appropriate population of responders to their products. And there are a number of firms and research teams that are developing drug/device combination therapies that combine neuromodulation with neuropharmaceutical therapy.
To help explore opportunities such as these, Neurotech Reports will be partnering with the research firm NeuroInvestment to present a half-day conference on drug-device combination therapies at the 7th Neurotech Leaders Forum on October 25 in Newport Beach, CA. The program will be led by NI Research president Harry Tracy, one of the leading experts in the neuropharmaceutical market and the publisher of a well respected industry newsletter.
Tracy will first offer an overview of the neuropharmaceutical industry and introduce some of the key players in the market. He will then look at the drug/device interface, describing numerous new combination therapies in development that combine elements of neurotech devices with drug delivery. Tracy will also offer a look at the drug companies most suitable for partnering opportunities with neurotech devices.
Just as the ion channel represents the junction between drug and device approaches to the nervous system, it is our hope that the 2007 Neurotech Leaders Forum will serve as a gate for neurotech device company executives to become acquainted with their counterparts in the neuropharmaceutical industry.