Neurodegenerative disease is an umbrella term for a range of conditions, which primarily affect the neurons (nerves) in the human brain. Neurons are the building blocks of the nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord. Neurons normally don’t reproduce or replace themselves, so when they become damaged or die the body cannot replace them. Neurodegenerative diseases are incurable (thus far) and debilitating conditions that result in progressive degeneration and / or death of nerve cells. This causes problems with movement (called ataxias), or mental functioning (called dementias). The main Neurodegenerative Diseases are Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease (PD), Prion disease, Motor neuron diseases (MND), Huntington’s Disease (HD) and Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).
UNS is targeting neurodegenerative diseases, including:
Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)
AD is the most common form of dementia among older people. Dementia is a brain disorder that seriously affects a person’s ability to carry out daily activities. There is currently no cure. AD afflicts 5.4 million patients in the US alone and is the 6th leading cause of death in the US. Globally, there are an estimated 44 million people who suffer from AD. In the US alone the AD economic burden is quite significant with over $200B being spent on direct costs annually, with indirect costs being over $2 trillion. UNS’s lead product is an anti-amyloid beta AD vaccine which is currently in Phase II Clinical Trials.
Parkinson’s Disease (PD)
PD is a disorder of the brain that leads to shaking (tremors) and difficulty with walking, movement, and coordination. There are currently over 1 million sufferers in the US and PD is the 14th leading cause of death in the US. The estimated economic impact in the US alone is estimated at $25B annually and there is currently no cure. Worldwide, an estimated 7-10 million people are living with Parkinson’s Disease.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. There are 30,000 cases in the United States with the average life expectancy post diagnosis being 2-5 years. Global prevalence rates for ALS are estimated at between 4 and 6 per 100 000 population. There is currently no cure for ALS.
Huntington’s Disease (HD)
HD is a neurodegenerative genetic disorder that affects muscle coordination and leads to cognitive decline and behavioral symptoms. In the United States alone there are approximately 30,000 cases of HD and an estimated annual spend of $2B on patient costs. There is no cure. The worldwide prevalence of HD is at least 1 in every 10,000 people. In western countries it is estimated that 5-7 per 100,000 people are affected by HD.