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January 26, 2006

The Neurotech Industry Investing & Business Conference – May 18, S.F.

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Profiting from advances in drugs, devices and diagnostics for the brain and nervous system. Expand your network and hear from over 40 CEOs, investors, and researchers who reveal why biotech, medtech and IT investors are funding neurotechnology. Register now at early rate www.neuroinsights.com.

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January 09, 2006

The Neurotech Industry Conference May 18th - A Must Attend Event

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Posted by Zack Lynch

If you have ever found the information I post on Brain Waves to be valuable, then I highly recommend that you attend a conference I have been planning: The Neurotechnology Industry Investment and Business Conference to be held on May 18th in San Francisco. The NeuroInsights team has looked across the globe to bring you 40 of the leading doers and thinkers from across the neurotech landscape.

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Investors, executives, entrepreneurs, and leading researchers involved in the development of new drugs, devices and diagnostics for the brain and nervous system are coming together to shape the future of their organization and the neurotechnology industry.

This market defining one-day conference features keynotes on state of the neurotech industry, cutting edge company presentations, and panel discussions on a comprehensive selection of neurotech topics of interest to biotech, medtech, and IT investors and executives.

• Learn who investing in neurotech and why
• What start ups are getting funded
• How are public neurotech companies stocks performing
• Learn in what markets devices are competing with pharma
• Hear how brain imaging and informatics impacting drug development
• Learn what venture and strategic investors are looking for
• Discover emerging technologies and companies
• Find out about new licensing and partnering opportunities
• Learn about translational research & funding opportunities

Hear about next generation treatments for Alzheimer’s, addiction, anxiety, depression, epilepsy, hearing loss, insomnia, multiple sclerosis, pain, Parkinson’s, stroke, schizophrenia, stroke, vision loss and other brain-related illnesses.

Over the next few weeks I'll be posting session descriptions, speakers and other important information as it relates to the conference. If you intend on joining us, you can see the agenda by clicking here. I also recommend registering sooner rather than later to take advantage of our early-bird price.

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November 01, 2005

October Neurotech Public Market Summary

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Posted by Zack Lynch

From Neurotech Insights:

Neurotech Stocks up on acquisitions; three IPOS pending

Three companies in NeuroInsights Neurotech Index (ANSI, MTIX, and BLSI) announced acquisition deals this month with an average valuation of 39% above their trading price. Investors in neurodiagnostic company Bio-logic Systems (BLSI) received the largest return for the month, after Natus Medical (BABY) announced a $66 million acquisition offer, representing a 49% premium above the market value. Advanced Neuromodulation (ANSI), a rumored target for J&J, announced that it will be acquired by St. Jude Medical (STJ) for $1.3 billion, a 30% premum over the stock price which had recently taken a small dip … More market news in this month's From Neurotech Insights

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October 31, 2005

Obesity - The Global Race for Treatments

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Posted by Zack Lynch

As children munch away on candy corns, baby ruths and the wide assortment of candy they collected last night, some of them are becoming part of the growing "globesity" (global obesity) epidemic.

Over one billion people worldwide and approximately 130 million Americans are overweight or obese, according to a July 2005 report published by the World Health Organization. If current trends continue, that number will increase to 1.5 billion by 2015. Joining the many neuropharmaceutical companies developing new therapeutics to treat the escalating global epidemic of overweight and obesity – “globesity” – are a small cadre of neurodevice companies offering novel solutions.

cover%20neurotech%20insights%20obesity.jpgThe potential of neurostimulation devices to treat a variety of diseases, such as epilepsy and chronic pain, is becoming widely appreciated. The neurostimulation market generated revenues of over $1 billion in 2004 with 20% growth, making it the fastest growing areas of medical devices. In most applications the technical principle is the same: a pacemaker-type device known as an Implantable Pulse Generator (IPG), delivers a precise pattern of stimulation via the appropriate nerve pathway to achieve the desired effect...

Obesity is very serious and growing (no pun intended), health problem which is why we have chosen to focus on the obesity market in this month's Neurotech Insights. To order the complete report please visit, www.neurotechinsights.com. Also included in this issue:


INSIDE THIS ISSUE: OCTOBER 31, 2005 - Obesity

Markets and Industry Players
Included: Pharmaceutical and Device Clinical Trials
Article: The Search for A Skinny Pill
Top News Alerts: People, Product Updates & Acquisitions
Featured Company: Arena Pharmaceuticals (ARNA)

Neurotech Insights is now available in Japanese too.

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October 05, 2005

Neurotech in Japan and Emerging Schizophrenia Treatments

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Due to increasing interest in the neurotechnology industry from the Japanese market, NeuroInsights has entered an agreement with Japan's BioToday to translate and distribute the investment newsletter Neurotech Insights in Japanese. The latest issue focused on the Schizophrenia market was launched yesterday in both English and Japanese.
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INSIDE THIS ISSUE: SEPTEMBER 30, 2005

Featured Topic: Schizophrenia Treatments: Is Newer Better
Included: Clinical Trials for Schizophrenia and Psychosis
Top News Alerts: Deals, Clinical Trials, & Stocks
Featured Company: Acadia Pharmaceuticals (ACAD)

Market summary: Stocks gain on alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, and insomnia news

The biggest winner in September was Memory Pharmaceuticals (MEMY), which announced that the safety portion of its Phase II trial for Alzheimer’s is complete and the efficacy portion of the trial will now begin (see MEMY, page 4). ACADIA (ACAD) was also up this month on steady progress of their schizophrenia pipeline. NeuroInsights spoke with CEO, Uli Hacksell, and thinks ACADIA is in a good position to continue its upward climb (see ACADIA, page 6)…more

Schizophrenia: NIMH STUDY COMPARES Treatments, better options Coming

The much anticipated results of a large study of schizophrenia drugs dubbed CATIE for “Clinical Antipsychotic Trials in Intervention Effectiveness” were announced in the September 22 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Newer atypical antipsychotics including Eli-Lilly’s (LLY) Zyprexa, Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ) Risperdal, AstraZeneca’s (AZN) Seroquel and Pfizer’s (PFE) Geodon were compared to the older antipsychotic perphenazine, which was introduced in the 1950's. Patients who failed with all drugs were switched to Abilify, the latest drug from Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY)…

Foundations Accelerate Research and Treatments for Mental Illness

The role of organized philanthropy in mental health in the United States can be traced to the early 1900s when the Rockefeller Foundation and the Milbank Memorial Fund helped establish the National Committee for Mental Hygiene in 1909. Several decades later in 1942, the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation used extensive connections in Congress to inspire the legislation that authorized establishment of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)…

ACADIA Pharma: A new approach to mental illness

ACADIA Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ACAD) is a small company with an international presence. It is focused on schizophrenia, a huge market with a large unmet medical need. Located in San Diego, CA, with chemistry facilities in Malmo, Sweden, the company has several drugs in the clinic that promise to revolutionize the approach to mental illness…

Neurobiological technologies Presents at MCF Investor summit: sells XERECEPT RIGHTS TO CELTIC

Neurobiological Technologies, Inc (NTII) CEO, Paul Freiman, presented an intriguing story this week at the Merriman, Curhan, Ford Investor Summit in San Francisco. Citing the legendary fact that only 10 in 1000 drugs make it to clinical trials and only one out of those will actually be approved, NTI’s strategy is to in-license late stage drugs and take them through regulatory approval alone or in partnership with global marketers. So far NTI’s strategy is paying off. With only 25 employees and no basic research effort, they have one partnered drug on the market, two late stage trials underway and a full bank account, thanks to a recent $33 million deal and a $10 million credit line with Comerica…

Integra LifeSciences Acquires RADIONICS & EUNOE

Integra LifeSciences Holdings Corporation (IART) has been busy acquiring more assets this month, beefing up its product line and revenue projections. The 1,300 person, New Jersey company develops, manufactures, and markets medical devices for the neuro-trauma, neurosurgery, reconstructive surgery and general surgery markets…

To purchase this issue of Neurotech Insights or back issues on Stem Cells, Stroke and Pain click here.



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September 01, 2005

Treating Pain - Special Neurotech Insights Issue

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Posted by Zack Lynch

We all feel pain. Some 87 million Americans and over 290 million individuals worldwide suffer from some form of chronic pain. Sales of therapeutics for pain management reached over $20 billion last year, up 11%.

aug 31b cover.jpgTo learn more about the past, present and future of the pain management market then don't miss the latest issue of Neurotech Insights - the neurotechnology investment newsletter. Included in this issue:

-Next Generation Pain Treatments (in-depth analysis with latest clinical trials)
-Interview with Pain Therapeutics CEO, Remi Barbier
-Discussion of neurostimulation treatments for pain management
-Market analysis of public companies (RNVS, CEPH, MDT, DOVP, NTII, SHPGY)
-Deals, alliances and financings
-Neurotech Index performance (companies treating neurological diseases)

If you are an investor, corporate executive, researcher, or someone who suffers from chronic pain I recommend picking up the latest copy of Neurotech Insights - the biweekly neurotechnology investment newsletter.

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August 15, 2005

The Neurotech Nexus - Report on Global Neurotech Economy - Free

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Posted by Zack Lynch

What regions are leading the global brain industry?

According to a 35-page report I wrote over the past six months and published today titled, The Neurotech Nexus - Regional Economic Clusters in the Global Neurotechnology Industry (Download here for free, compliments of the Institute for Global Futures), San Francisco, Boston, San Diego, and London are leading the race to create established neurotech clusters.

Here is the press release we put over the wire this morning announcing the availability of the report and the key findings:

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug. 15, 2005--A new report from NeuroInsights, the neurotechnology market authority, and sponsored by the Institute for Global Futures, revealed today that seven of the ten leading neurotech regions are in the United States, with another two in Europe and one in Asia.

Some of the findings in NeuroInsights' Neurotech Nexus Report include:

-- San Francisco Bay Area leads neurotechnology investment, research and product development -- with Boston in close second. San Diego and London-Cambridge ranked third and fourth respectively;

-- Three sectors of the neurotechnology industry are playing a critical role in regional economic development with $87 billion in revenues currently derived from neuropharmaceuticals, $2.8 billion from neurodevices, and $12 billion from neurodiagnostics;

-- While major pharmaceutical companies currently generate the majority of the neurotechnology industry's revenue, they increasingly rely on licensing relationships with smaller regional companies for breakthrough treatments;

-- Munich (Germany), Montreal (Canada), Singapore, Tokyo (Japan), and Melbourne (Australia) are highlighted as Nascent Nexus' where active government support is fostering the development of neurotech clusters.

According to the report, neurotechnology represents the largest untapped medical market and there are numerous opportunities available to communities that can leverage the dramatic growth of neurotechnology. Given the promise of new treatments, coupled with a patient population of over 1.5 billion people who suffer from a brain-related illness, neurotechnology has become the leading recipient of life science venture funding worldwide.

"Big economic payoffs will accrue to communities that successfully nurture the emerging 'brain industry,'" said Zack Lynch, managing director of NeuroInsights. "The close collaboration of knowledge-intensive institutions, investors, businesses and workers fosters high-quality job creation, influx of investment capital and economic growth."

Dr. James Canton, CEO of The Institute for Global Futures, the report's sponsor, explained, "Neurotech is now truly a global industry with companies and cutting-edge research in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. These regions stand out because the concentration of talent and capital has a positive feedback effect creating a nexus for neurotechnology innovation."

The Neurotech Nexus Report evaluated 20 regions worldwide according to factors such as the concentration of neurotech companies, access to risk capital and social institutions to support future innovation. According to the report's analysis, the top ten regions worldwide are:

1. San Francisco Bay Area
2. Greater Boston
3. San Diego
4. London -- Cambridge
5. Greater New York
6. Greater Raleigh -- Durham
7. Los Angeles -- Irvine
8. Greater Philadelphia
9. Shanghai, China
10. Stockholm, Sweden

About NeuroInsights

As the neurotechnology market authority, NeuroInsights(TM) helps investors, industry executives and the public understand and profit from the rapid growth of companies treating brain and nervous system-related illnesses, providing:

-- Neurotech Insights Investment Newsletter
-- The Neurotechnology Industry 2005 Report
-- Custom economic development analysis;
-- Strategic advisory services;
-- Events and conferences;
-- Market news and stock tracking

About The Institute for Global Futures

The Institute for Global Futures is a San Francisco based think tank that forecasts innovations and trends. IGF provides keynote presentations; futures research services, and strategy consulting to the Fortune 1000, associations and governments.

Availability

The 35-page Neurotech Nexus Report sponsored by the Institute for Global Futures is available for free downloads from NeuroInsights at www.neuroinsights.com.

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May 20, 2005

Neurotech Index - A Public Market Benchmark for the Neurotechnology Industry

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Posted by Zack Lynch

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About the Neurotech Index
To help investors gauge the overall welfare on the public markets of companies specializing in neurotechnology, NeuroInsights has introduced NeuroInsights' Neurotech Index in the recently released strategic investment and market analysis report on the neurotechnology industry.

Index Performance
In 2004, the Neurotech Index was up 27.1% compared to respective gains of 10.9% and 8.6% for the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ Composite Index. The Neurotech Index also outpaced the NASDAQ Biotechnology Index, another life-sciences-oriented measure of the public markets, which grew by 5.1% in 2004.

Index Calculation
The Index is an equally weighted index of 30 companies that have a significant percentage of their current and future profits tied to neurotechnology, including neuropharmaceuticals, neurodevices or neurodiagnostics. Large conglomerates, even those with significant neurotechnology products, are excluded from the Index. It will thereby offer insight into the way the public markets perceive the future promise of neurotechnology and its current state of development.

At the beginning of 2004, 26 companies qualified for inclusion in the Neurotech Index. New neurotech IPOs in the ensuing months have increased the number of index companies to 30. The index is based on a value of 100 as of December 31, 2003, and is calculated using an equal-dollar weighting methodology designed to ensure that each security is represented in an approximately equal dollar amount.

The index is rebalanced semiannually, on the last trading day in December and in June, at which time the number of companies included in the index may change based on changing conditions in the industry, such as initial public offerings and M&A activity. The number of whole shares of each component stock is then adjusted so that each company is again represented in equal dollar amounts and then adjusted by a divisor, if necessary, to ensure continuity of the index.

For more information about the companies covered in the NeuroInsights' Neurotech Index please visit www.neuroinsights.com.

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May 11, 2005

The Neurotechnology Industry 2005: Strategic Investment and Market Analysis Report of the Global Neurological Disease and Psychiatric Illness Markets

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Posted by Zack Lynch

I've spent the past two years writing this report. I hope you enjoy it.

NeuroInsights Reveals Brain Industry's Investment Opportunities, Risks and Competitive Landscape in New Industry-Defining Report

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 11, 2005--NeuroInsights, the neurotechnology market authority, today announced the release of the industry's first comprehensive investment- and business-focused analysis of the neurotechnology marketplace. Titled "The Neurotechnology Industry 2005: Strategic Investment and Market Analysis Report of the Global Neurological Disease and Psychiatric Illness Markets," the 250 page report is the first publication to provide a unified market-based framework to help investors, companies and governments easily quantify opportunities, determine risks and understand the dynamics of this rapidly changing market.

The report's findings include:

-- NeuroInsights' Neurotech Index(TM) -- an investment benchmark that measures the stock performance of 30 publicly traded neurotechnology companies -- grew by 27.1 percent in 2004, compared to respective gains of 10.9 percent and 8.6 percent for the S&P 500 and NASDAQ Composite Index.

-- Neurological disease and psychiatric illness represent the largest and fastest growing unmet medical market: over 1.5 billion people worldwide and 100 million individuals in North America alone;

-- The neurotechnology industry has three sectors: neuropharmaceuticals with revenues of $87 billion and 13 percent growth annually; neurodevices with revenues of $2.8 billion and 20 percent growth annually; and neurodiagnostics with revenues of $12 billion and 11 percent growth annually;

-- VC investment in neurotechnology companies climbed 225 percent from 1999 to 2004 -- representing nearly $6 billion. Today, one-in-four VC dollars invested in Life Sciences goes to neurotechnology companies;

"It's an opportune time for investors to be looking at this market," said Zack Lynch, managing director of NeuroInsights. "The industry framework detailed in this report helps answer critical investment questions, such as: Who is investing in neurotechnology and what types of startups are getting funded? How are public neurotech companies performing compared to other industries? In what markets are neurodevices competing with neuropharmaceuticals?"

Pricing and Availability

The Neurotechnology Industry 2005: A Strategic Investment and Market Analysis Report of the Global Neurological Disease and Psychiatric Illness Markets." is available immediately. The 250 page report includes profiles of more than 300 public and private neurotechnology companies, products in clinical trials, and competitive analysis by market segment for more than 13 disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, insomnia, depression, anxiety, epilepsy, addiction, stroke, schizophrenia, sensory disorders, Parkinson's disease and pain.

The cost of the report is $5,000 and can be ordered directly from NeuroInsightsor by calling 415-229-3225.

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March 16, 2005

VCs Have Brains on Their Minds - Neurotech VC Up 225%

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Neurotechnology Industry Experiencing Explosive Growth in Venture Funding Says Upcoming Report from NeuroInsights

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 16, 2005--A soon-to-be-released report from NeuroInsights, the neurotechnology market authority, will show that venture capital investment in neurotech companies (firms developing treatments for neurological and psychiatric illnesses) climbed a phenomenal 225 percent from 1999 to 2004 -- representing $5.987 billion invested by VCs during that period.

According to data compiled by NeuroInsights, more than one-in-four venture capital dollars invested in the Life Sciences now goes to companies creating innovations in neuropharmaceuticals, neurodevices and neurodiagnostics.

"Five of the top ten leading causes of disability worldwide are caused by problems with the brain and nervous system," explained Zack Lynch, managing director of NeuroInsights. "The good news is that new treatments for those suffering from illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease, depression and chronic pain are emerging quickly. Building on the success of the Human Genome Project and decades of brain research, neurotech now holds the greatest potential for major discoveries, commercial success and real investment opportunities. It's no wonder over 60 venture capital firms made significant investments in private neurotech companies last year."

"Neurotech companies are addressing the largest and fastest growing unmet medical market so there's room for many new companies with good science to compete," said Mark Cochran, managing partner at NeuroVentures Capital. "As a focused neurotech fund, we've talked with over 500 startups in the space and the potential for high return investment has never been more compelling."

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November 19, 2004

Why Define the Neurotechology Industry?

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Mental illness represents the largest and fastest growing unmet medical market with an estimated 1.5 billion people suffering from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. Annually, neurodegenerative diseases and disorders generate more healthcare related costs and lost income than any other therapeutic arena: an estimated $1.0 trillion worldwide and $250 billion in the U.S. As population growth continues and people live longer these numbers will soar much higher.

Translating basic research into actual cures for mental illness will require an order of magnitude more capital than is currently being invested by governments, private enterprise and foundations. With the annual direct and indirect cost of mental illness approaching $250B in the US, the $1.4B NIMH budget remains a drop in the bucket when compared to the size of the problem. Even the estimated $30B annually invested by pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to develop new treatments for mental illness is inadequate with respect to size of the global mental health care crisis.

To dramatically increase the amount of financial capital available to neuroscience researchers and emerging companies, neuroscience must become an industry that can attract global capital: the neurotechnology industry.

The neurotechnology industry faces unique investment, research, and regulatory issues currently hidden by the fragmented coverage of relevant sectors including: biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, biopharmaceuticals, and medical devices. The lack of a focused industry analysis results in reduced valuations for companies, incomplete investment scrutiny, and a cloudy view of the competitive dynamics in this rapidly expanding and highly profitable industry.

Just as nano-scale science evolved into the nanotechnology industry over the past five years – becoming the focus of over 50 venture funds while simultaneously engaging global equity markets through tracking indexes (e.g. Merrill Lynch Nanotech Index) – defining the neurotechnology industry will increase the potential for successful exit strategies available to neurotechnology companies and investors. With the public markets pulling for the latest translation of research into successful treatments, the pool of capital that neurotechnology venture funds will have at their disposal will increase dramatically.

Think about it this way: if there was a simple way to invest in mental health wouldn't you want 10% of your retirement portfolio focused on neurotech ventures who are creating the next generation of tools for neurodegenerative diseases and mental disorders. If so, what companies would you include?

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September 07, 2004

Neuroinformatics - An Enormous Market

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Posted by Zack Lynch

While bioinformatics isn't likely to create any new software stars, neuroinformatics will. The reason is simple: complexity. As I mentioned recently, the data about a person's genome can already fit on an ipod, yet the data about one's brain will require petabytes, if not exabytes, of storage capacity.

How much is a petabyte? One example is the Internet Archive Wayback Machine that contains approximately 1 petabyte of data and it has been archiving almost every webpage created since 1993.

Along with government initiatives like the human brain project there are also several small companies targeting neuroinformatics like Australia's Brain Resource Company (BRC), San Diego's Neurome, and Chicago's MIICRO.

Here is an overview of what BRC is up to (courtesy of Psychscape)

BRC has has set up the world's first standardized international database on the human brain. BRC already has a database of over 1,000 normative subjects and over 500 clinical subjects and still growing. This collaboration of scientists and technology partners (such as IBM) gathers information into a neuroscience database which includes demographic, neuropsychological (cognitive), electrical brain-body function, sMRI, fMRI, genetic and lifestyle data along with function, structure and genetics of patients' brains. A patient who is referred to the database (by over 50 researchers from around the globe), first enters data online - this consists of demographic data such as age, gender, eating and drinking habits, early childhood experiences. The patient tben goes into one of the BRC labs to undergo various tests, such as MRIs and EEGs

According to the BRC website, researchers then use a tool called the "Matrix" that allows comparisons between various elements in the database. "It consists of 245 x 245 correlations, with 8 layers of age, (each with 3 parameters) totalling over 1.4 Million cells of data. This enormous amount of information is powerfully summarised by automated colouring of cells based on significance levels. At a glance widespread patterns in the data can be seen as patches of colour. To further investigate such hotspots the matrix can be crossed referenced on all three dimensions (correlates of the column variable, correlates of the row variable, and through age groups/covariation) to explore possible confounds, interaction and causality."

One of the goals of the BRC is to allow rapid comparisons of a patient profile against the normative data with the goal of predicting a response to particular drugs or anticipate a side effect to a specific intervention. Science has been chasing the ability to predict a personal response to any clinical intervention. Who will respond and who will not respond is extremely valuable information to the pharmaceutical industry as well as to clinicians.

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September 01, 2004

The Nanotech Report 2004 - A must read

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Lux Research just published the third edition of their seminal report on the nanotechnology industry. The Nanotech Report 2004 profiles more than 1,000 companies and features new investment frameworks and strategies, company and academic profiles, patent licensing opportunities and trends, competitive data, interviews with Nobel laureates and industry experts, profiles of the most influential players in nanotechnology, and a technical primer.

Because nanotechnology is a key enabler of neurotechnology, I recommend that anyone involved in neurotech-oriented ventures read the insights contained within this report - click here for a free download of the introduction.

Key findings in the report include:

- Governments, corporations and venture capitalists will spend more than $8.6 billion worldwide on nanotechnology research and development in 2004.
- National & local governments will invest more than $4.6 billion in nanotech R&D in 2004.
- The U.S. government will spend nearly twice as much on nanotechnology this year as it did on the Human Genome Project in its peak year.
- The U.S. has now appropriated more than $3.16 billion to fund nanotechnology R&D since 2000 and is proposing $982 million in new funding for FY 2005.
- Major corporations will spend more than $3.8 billion on nanotech R&D in 2004.

A webinar is also available that provides the highlights of the report. It can be found by clicking here. For more nanotech news check out this resource.

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August 04, 2004

NeuroWiki, Really.

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Posted by Zack Lynch

NeuroWiki is yet another example of how wikis are transforming how humans collaborate and share information. Wikis are being used for everything, including: music, gmail, business and education.

While wikipedia is perhaps the best public example of their potential, many don't find them user friendly enough. But as Socialtext's Adina Levin shares, "wikis confuse people because they are designed to be revised."

At the end of the day, the important component to the success of any wiki is "gardening". Just like leaf cutter ants must tend to their coevolving fungi gardens in order to survive, humans need to prune our information gardens. In the case of neurowiki, I would advise an ox-drawn plow or two. Remember, there is a fungus among us.

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July 07, 2004

Nature Methods...About Time.

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Coming this fall, the Nature Publishing Group will introduce: Nature Methods. This is long overdue and will likely become a publishing empire in its own right over the next decade. Replication of methods sits at the center of the scientific method. I bet Derek Lowe and Randall Parker will applaud NM's introduction too.

According to Nature Methods' Editor, Veronique Kiermer, "they are committed to emphasizing quality, novelty and readability and to serving a large and varied audience with cutting-edge content that meets the highest standards of quality."

"The journal will present a carefully balanced selection of long papers and brief communications, describing the development of new methodologies and significant improvements to tried-and-tested techniques. These articles will be selected on the basis of their likely impact on the scientific community, with a strong preference for those works that have the potential for broad practical application across several sectors of the life sciences. The articles will be technical in essence and tailored to provide readers with an accurate expectation of technical performance, describing validation or proof of concept and illustrating the performance of the new method in comparison to currently available approaches. As with all Nature journals, articles will undergo rigorous peer review process, ensuring the Nature tradition of excellence is maintained.

Along with these articles, each issue will contain a detailed protocol for a relatively recent and technically challenging method, presented in a practical format that allows immediate reproducibility. The journal will also publish reviews written by authorities in their field, discussing the applicability and limitations of specific technologies in comparison to other approaches.

What's Next? Nature Neurotechnology.

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May 17, 2004

Nanotech Sees Need for Clearer Taxonomy

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Posted by Zack Lynch

The Washington Post reports on the increasing problem facing nano-scale researchers and the nanotechnology "industry" as a whole, a lack of any real scientific or industry taxonomy to describe products. Without an intelligent and consistent taxonomy to describe new materials, products and companies, the nanotechnology industry risks confusing investors and attracting unwanted attention of government regulators.

"Now scientists are tackling the difficult process of creating one. The effort is young; experts are just now organizing a series of conferences to hammer out a system. But the process offers an unusual peek into the arcane world in which chemists decide how to categorize the tangled skeins of new knowledge.

"It's like developing a new language, and I don't want this to become Esperanto," said Vicki Colvin, director of the Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology at Rice University in Houston and a prime organizer of the new nano nomenclature effort.

Of particular interest to regulators and toxicologists is emerging evidence that some substances that are normally biologically inert can cause worrisome reactions in the body when present as nanoparticles. Similarly, some substances that are normally safe in the environment seem to have the potential to be ecologically disruptive when dispersed as nano-size particles.

Colvin hopes to receive funding to begin a series of nano nomenclature meetings this August and expects it could take as long as two years to get a solid framework. These meetings will include biologists, environmental scientists and others, reflecting the many potential applications for nanoproducts....In some cases, existing terms may suffice. In others, words may have to be invented, experts said."

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April 18, 2004

Neurotechnology - Faster, Safer, Smarter

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Neurotechnology represents better tools for mental health. As I mentioned in my letter to President Bush last year, neurotechnology will emerge before genetic engineering as the primary toolset that humanity will use to counter the growing global mental health epidemic for many reasons, including:

  • Neurotechnology effect is temporary, genetic engineering is permanent: Human genetic engineering won't become widely adopted until people can experiment with less permanent tools, especially when it comes to issues of human behavior

  • Social acceptance is proven: Humans are already using first generation neurotechnologies on a vast scale. For example, 17% of the US white-collar work force is currently using anti-depressants

  • Regulation and distribution systems are in place: The FDA and pharmaceutical development and distribution systems are already globally trusted processes, while genetic engineering will requires entirely new regulatory and distribution institutions
  • Scientific complexity: Genetic engineering requires knowing all the potential downstream consequences that altering a specific gene will have throughout one's life. The convergence of biochips and brain imaging will allow us iincrementally improve our understanding of our brain, making it possible for individuals to temporarily test and shape those mental attributes that help them achieve the goals important to them at that period of their life, much sooner.
  • Indeed, as neurotechnology develops it may turn out that in a majority of situations humans will choose neurotechnology instead of genetic engineering to combat disease because each versatility it offers.

    It appears that some were listening to this line of reasoning. The recent shift in the President's Council on Bioethics towards neuroethics is proof that people are beginning to see that neurotechnology is becoming to be seen as the real driver of near term economic, social and political change, rather than genetic engineering.

    But the genetic engineering meme remains deeply embedded across society. Just yesterday, the otherwise insightful economist, Tyler Cowen, suggested that parents will likely choose to genetically engineer their children to be more "obedient". Really? Would you really choose to permanently shape the personality of your future children if tools were available to allow them to make their own choices when they deemed it appropriate?

    Indeed, it has only been in the past few months that have we have seen the most effective medium of mass education, movies, begin to address the impact that neurotechnology will have across society. While the highly specific memory erasure neurotechnologies that are portrayed in movies like Eternal Sunshine in the Spotless Mind, PayCheck and the soon to be release Robin William's film, The Final Cut, remain unproven, last month's NYTimes magazine piece on measure erasure technologies shows the field in moving faster than many would think.

    To accelerate the public understanding of neurotechnology and galvanize the financial markets focus on this area, I have recently joined forces with Kevin Jones to accelerate the neurotechnology meme into the global consciousness. I am honored have Kevin joining with me on this important mission of accelerating the development of better tools for mental health for all. Stay Tuned.

    Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Neurotech Industry

    March 22, 2004

    Journal of Neural Engineering Launches

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    Posted by Zack Lynch

    Providing more evidence that neurotechnology industry is emerging, the Journal of Neural Engineering launched this month:

    The goal of this journal is to establish a new forum for the interdisciplinary field of neural engineering where neuroscientists, neurobiologists and engineers can publish their work in one periodical that bridges the gap between neuroscience and engineering. The new journal will publish full length articles in the field of neural engineering at the molecular, cellular and systems levels.

    This month's inaugural journal contains over 30 papers covering such topics as:

    1. Why we need a new journal in neural engineering
    2. fMRI signal changes during visual stimulation
    3. Control of phase synchronization of neuronal activity in rat hippocampus
    4. A versatile all-channel stimulator for electrode arrays, with real-time control

    This first article is an editorial that provides more detail why the Journal of Neural Engineering is unique and important:

    "Understanding how the brain works is considered the ultimate frontier and challenge in science. The complexity of the brain is so great that understanding even the most basic functions will require that we fully exploit all the tools currently at our disposal in science and engineering and simultaneously develop new methods of analysis. While neuroscientists and engineers from varied fields such as brain anatomy, neural development and electrophysiology have made great strides in the analysis of this complex organ, there remains a great deal yet to be uncovered...The ability to successfully interface the brain with external electronics would have enormous implications for our society and facilitate a revolutionary change in the quality of life of persons with sensory and/or motor deficits.

    Microelectrode technology represents the initial step towards this goal and has already improved the quality of life of many patients, as is evident from the success of auditory prostheses. The cost to society of neurological disorders such as stroke, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and epilepsy is staggering. Stroke, which is the third leading cause of death in North America, runs up costs of $40 billion to society per year for its treatment. Costs associated with brain disorders are estimated at $285 billion. Breakthroughs in this field will have a significant impact on the market for enabling technologies. The market for neurological medical devices totaled $2 billion in 1999 and is projected to grow at a rate of 20 to 30% in the next ten years, far outpacing the market for cardiac devices.

    Clearly this journal will play an important role in supporting the development of the basic science underlying the neuroelectronic sector of the neurotechnology industry. While this is definitely important in the near term, it remains equally important that the neurobiologic sector of the neurotechnology industry sector to also define itself as this is where an increasingly larger number of breakthroughs for neurological diseases and disorders will emerge in the long term. The best example of this is how audioceuticals will surpass the effectives of cochlear implants for the hearing impaired within the next decade.

    Note: Thanks to James Canton at the Institute for Global Futures for bringing this to my attention.


    Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Neurotech Industry

    January 08, 2004

    Brains for Lunch and Dinner

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    Posted by Zack Lynch

    Lunch: Casey and I had a wonderful lunch with Howard Fields at Zazie in Cole Valley. Howard leads the Wheeler Center for the Neurobiology of Addiction at UCSF. (a subject that fascinates many)

    Casey got to know Howard during graduate school at UCSF, while I was fortunate enough to meet him at the Gruter conference on evolutionary biology and the law last year. (photo of Howard and I chatting with the late Margaret Gruter)

    Meeting Howard at Gruter was a very special moment because I got to witness the amazing "light bulb" of innovation happen in real-time. It was during a neuroeconomics talk being given by Paul Glimcher and Paul Zak, when Howard stood up and shared with 60 of us how Paul's (both in this case) latest research findings on the neurobiology of economic decision-making had just sparked a whole new perspective on the addiction data he had been amassing for the past 20 years. Howard is now setting up a series of experiments that will help prove his hypothesis. More from Howard on his bar experiments in future Brain Waves.

    It will take me while to absorb the other topics we discussed, like -- the connection between biochips, brain imaging and behavior; free will (or not); emotions (a poor categorization of behavior), and the problems with animal models in human CNS research.

    Dinner: My brother Chris cooked and hosted, with his wonderful wife Christine, a fabulous Indonesian feast at their home in honor of Arlene Taylor . Arlene travels the world giving seminars on different aspects of the brain. She covers the gamut, from how to live authentically to music and the brain. Sharing in the celebration was Wrye Sententia from CCLE, Christina who came over from Budapest, and Deb. We laughed a lot about NBIC 2004, our emerging neurosociety and how to live without jet lag or hangovers.

    Comments (1) | Category: Neurotech Industry

    November 24, 2003

    The Neurotech Business Carnival

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    Posted by Zack Lynch

    Neurotech Business Reports overviews the most recent business news from across the neurotechnology industry. Among the highlights:

    - Analysts probe into issues related to commercializing neuroprostheses
    - Market projections suggest growth from $2.4B 2004 to $7.2B in 2008
    - James Cavuoto reacts to monkey's controlling a robot arm with cortical implants
    - Research Institution Profile: UCSF at forefront of neurostimulation devices
    - Vendor Profile: Neurome parlays brain database into neuropharma contracts
    - For the whole report

    Also, don't forget to check out this week's "Carnival of the Capitalists".

    Comments (0) | Category: Neurotech Industry

    September 09, 2003

    Neurotechnology Leaders Forum in San Francisco Today

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    Posted by Zack Lynch

    Congratulations to James Cavuoto and Neurotech Reports team for putting together a stimulating day conference on the neuro-electronic technology industry.

    Neurotechnology Industry - Electronic Sector

    Neurotech Reports defines neurotechnology as the application of electronics and engineering to the nervous system.

    This is different than the broader definition of neurotechnology used by the Economist, Susan Greenfield and here on Brain Waves.


    Neuroelectronic market segments

    Critical industry issues: Educating clinicians, reimbursement by insurance, regulatory hurdles and implantation bias

    Leading neuroelectronic companies: Medtronic, ANS, Cyberonics, Advanced Bionics, Neuropace



    1. Neural prostheses -- Size of cochlear implant market is $500M in 2003 - $1.6B in 2008), (retinal implants viable market by 2007, 2008)


    2. Neuromodulation -- Use of electronic stimulation to induce and restore desired function (e.g. urinary urge incontinence for spinal chord injury patients) Neural modulation market estimate is $800m in 2004 - $3B in 2008. Deep brain stimulation also growing for Parkinson’s.

    3. Therapeutic stimulation – Stimulators to reduce pain (e.g. Advanced Bionics—Bion)

    4. Neurodiagnostics – Equipment used to read electrical nervous systems

    5. Neural-computer interfaces – Use of nervous system signals to drive external

    Addicted to Neurotechnology: A User’s perspective

    What do a substance abuser and neurotechnology user have in common?

    According to Jennifer French, a periplegic who uses a neural stimulation system that has allowed her to stand (with a walker) at her wedding and balance on boats, there are a few interesting similarities: both are addicts, both require time to develop that addiction and both are life changing. Her joke excluded, Jennifer is the executive director of the Society To Increase Mobility (STIM) a non-profit that disseminates information about neurotechnology to users.

    For Jennifer, neurotechnology is not a market, not a product, but a whole new way to increase people’s quality of life. “It is life changing.”


    New Neural Stimulation NSF Engineering Research Center Announced

    A collaboration among USC, UC Santa Cruz and Caltech in cooperation with AMI has secured $20M in funding over five years.


    Wireless Disposable Brain Imaging

    10% of the population suffers from sleep apnea, but only 10% even know it.

    Advanced Brain Monitoring has produced a new disposable brain EEG system (where the electrodes are disposable not the EEG--thanks Chris) that monitors alertness and drowsiness. ABM has received $7M in funding from NIH and DARPA. Their ARES system is inexpensive, non-invasive, 6 channel, bi-directional radio frequency transmission, can be comfortably worn for 8 hours, and is powered by 2 AA batteries.

    Check out ABM’s tag line: Brain monitoring in the home, at work and on demand.

    Neurotechnology VC's

    The venture capital discussion focused on the differences between medical device and biopharmaceutical company valuations and exit strategies. Last IPO window for medical device companies was 1996 and most of the those companies have not done well. Last IPO window for biotech was 2000. Valuations have held up better.


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    June 24, 2003

    Neurotechnology Business Reports

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    Posted by Zack Lynch

    James Cavuoto has been kind enough to provide me with a monthly subscription to Neurotech Business Reports. Although I think they define neurotechnology too narrowly, primarily focusing on electro-mechanical neural prostheses, the information contained in these monthly updates is relevant and concise for any neurotech investor. Of particular interest in June:


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    March 13, 2003

    World's First Brain Prosthesis?

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    Posted by Zack Lynch

    Today's hype surrounding the "revealing" of the world's first neural prosthesis for the hippocampus is just that, hype.  It's nice to keep the public informed about developments in neurotechnology.  This research shows promise, but this is far from the first brain prosthesis.

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    March 03, 2003

    What is Neurotechnology?

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    Posted by Zack Lynch

    The neurotechnology industry includes companies researching, developing and marketing pharmaceuticals, biologics, medical devices, as well as diagnostic and surgical equipment for the treatment of neurological and psychiatric illnesses.

    NeuroInsights has identified three sectors within the $100 billion industry:
    neuropharmaceuticals, neurodevices and neurodiagnostics. Neurotechnology companies face fundamentally different investment requirements, research and development challenges, regulatory milestones and social drivers that sets them apart from other life science and health care companies.

    See www.neuroinsights.com for more information on the neurotechnology industry.

    Comments (0) | Category: NeuroWave 2050 | Neurosociety | Neurotech Industry