4 next-gen CNS drug development trends

Healthy neuron [Image courtesy of NIH]

The past couple of years have had a significant impact on CNS drug development, but it remains difficult to gauge how the field will evolve in the coming years. Many Big Pharma companies have AI initiatives, but most remain at a nascent stage. 

The pandemic has exacerbated the mental health crisis, leading to a surge in interest in potentially new treatment options, including psychedelic-inspired molecules. But Big Pharma companies continue to largely sit on the sidelines and let others derisk a class of drugs that have been illegal for decades.

The following article examines a range of topics pertinent to CNS drug development. We touch on the current state of AI adoption and discuss the potential of non-hallucinogenic psychedelic drugs and the future role of connected sensors in CNS clinical trials.  

1. Big Pharma will continue to rely on AI partnerships — for …
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The CNS drug development drum beat is getting louder

[image courtesy of Pixabay]

The late 1980s and the 1990s were something of a gold rush for pharmaceutical companies focused on CNS drug development — especially those developing psychiatric drugs. In 1988, Eli Lilly introduced the blockbuster SSRI Prozac (fluoxetine), then a new type of antidepressant. Big Pharma companies launched several SSRIs in the years that followed. 

By the end of the 2000s, the rate of development of antidepressants and psychiatric medicines, more broadly, had crawled to a near standstill as Big Pharma companies slashed R&D budgets for CNS drugs and chose to exit the mental health space. “They were facing patent cliffs and had to make some critical decisions,” said Emer Leahy, said CEO of PsychoGenics. 

The tide is now turning. A growing number of well-funded smaller companies with venture backing are emerging in a quest to develop novel psychiatric drugs. “T…

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