Neurodegenerative Disease

Neurodegenerative diseases are incurable and debilitating conditions that result from the progressive degeneration and / or death of neurons in the brain and spinal cord.  Neurodegeneration causes problems with movement (ataxias) and / or cognitive function (dementias), and includes a number of diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), Parkinson’s Disease (PD), Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).  While many of neurodegenerative diseases are genetic, other causes can include viruses, alcoholism, tumors or toxins, and as is now clear, repetitive brain injuries.

Neurons also accumulate considerable levels of cellular damage over time, which is generally considered the reason why many neurodegenerative diseases associated with long-term cellular stress, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, occur in aged individuals.

Neurodegenerative Disease Facts:

  • Dementias are responsible for the greatest burden of neurodegenerative diseases with AD representing approximately 60-70% of cases8

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)9:

  • An estimated 5.2 million Americans of all ages have AD in 2014; one in nine people age 65 and older (11%) have AD
  • By 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with AD may nearly triple to a projected 13.8 million with one new case appearing every 33 seconds.
  • In the US, the cost of providing care for AD patients is $214 billion per year, with Medicare and Medicaid covering 70% of this cost. If present trends continue, this cost is projected to grow to $1.2 trillion per year by 2050 – an overwhelming economic burden.

Parkinson’s Disease (PD):

  • As many as one million Americans live with PD, and approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed each year, and this number does not reflect the thousands of cases that go undetected10.
  • The combined direct and indirect cost of PD, including treatment, social security payments and lost income from inability to work, is estimated to be nearly $25 billion per year in the United States alone11.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS):

  • More than 400,000 people in the United States have MS, and among young adults, MS is the most common disease of the central nervous system12.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) / Lou Gehrig’s Disease:

  • Approximately 5,600 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year, and it is estimated that as many as 30,000 Americans may have the disease at any given time13.

Astrocyte Pharmaceuticals is investigating chronic treatments approaches that regularly activate astrocytes and stimulate recovery and repair of the neurons and their connections.  A successful therapeutic would impact many patients across the broad spectrum of neurodegenerative diseases.

8 Kandale 2013
9 Alzheimer’s Association
10 Parkinson’s Disease Foundation
11 Parkinson’s Disease Foundation & Huse 2005
12 Multiple Sclerosis Foundation
13 ALS Association
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