GlobalData’s analysis of current pipeline drugs in neuro-immunology has revealed that the most common target for these drugs are cytokines or their receptors. The analysis included pipeline drugs that are currently in Phases I, II, or III and being developed in the eight major markets (8MM: US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK, Japan, and China).

According to GlobalData’s Pharma Intelligence Center, around 33% of these drugs act as an agonist or antagonist for a cytokine or its receptor. The next most common target is lymphocytes or molecules associated with their activation or migration, followed by proteins that characterise diseases, such as amyloid beta in Alzheimer’s disease. Other targets that are currently being pursued include antibody receptors, molecules associated with antigen presentation, components of the complement system, and enzymes.

The three most common targets highlighted above account for approximately 70% of all targets in the current neuro-immunology pipeline. The diversity of these targets and their varied effects in the body make each of them an attractive candidate for further study. Cytokines are signalling proteins that regulate many physiological functions, including immune function, inflammation, and tissue repair.

In neurology, cytokines are understood to have both neuroprotective and neurodegenerative effects. The objective of cytokine therapy is either to suppress cytokine levels where they are found to be contributing to diseases, such as by causing inflammation, or to supplement cytokines where they are found to have neuroprotective or anti-inflammatory functions. However, cytokines can affect several processes in parallel due to their pleiotropic effect, thus causing a systemic effect. This is a limitation of cytokine therapy.

However, cytokine therapy is only one strategy used in the neuro-immunology space. The targeted nature of therapies that cause an effect on lymphocytes or molecules that are associated with lymphocyte activation or migration make these drugs the preferred choice for some key opinion leaders (KOLs) interviewed by GlobalData. Activated immune cells that impart cytotoxic or regulatory effects in neurology diseases have made them a feasible target for neuro-immunology drugs. Therefore, therapies that target the depletion of these immune cells, particularly T-cells, have attracted the attention of researchers.

The third most common strategy used in the neuro-immunology space is to target proteins with deposits that are thought to be an underlying factor for the onset of neurological disease. However, KOLs interviewed by GlobalData indicated that this avenue has a long way to go before significant development can be witnessed, as more understanding of the disease pathology and the role of immune response in regulating the levels of such proteins is required for these therapies to have a higher chance of developmental success.

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