The direct and indirect cost of loss of productivity due to sleep disorders translates to hundreds of billions of dollars at the least in the United States alone, avalanching to several times the figure at the global level. This vast impact that sleep disorders have on the global economy is ensuring considerable research in this sphere, which contrary to the inherent property of sleep, is a very vibrant area with tremendous momentum.
According to the latest International Classification of Sleep Disorders (ICSD), there are 90 different types of sleep disorders, all of which have an unpleasant effect on the quality of day to day life and lifestyle. Most of these disorders are insomnia, or a variation of it, but there are many other disorders that are not commonly recognized as a problem. Moreover, a large majority of these sleep disorders presently do not have a specific pharmaceutical treatment, and available treatments for the remainder are not completely effective.
Frost & Sullivan’s (ti.frost.com) latest study, Advances in Sleep Pharmaceuticals, finds that these factors put together represent a large unmet medical need waiting to be exploited by willing pharmaceutical companies.
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“The most potent driving force of the sleep pharmaceuticals industry is the large underserved market,” notes Frost and Sullivan Research Analyst Rasika Ramachandran. “Although there are several treatment options available at present, there is still a lot of room for new drugs that would have better side effect profiles and that are not scheduled, as a majority of the presently marketed drugs carry some abuse potential and are, therefore, not suitable for long-term use.”
With regard to notable advances in the field of sleep pharmaceuticals, Neurim Pharmaceuticals, a drug discovery and development company headquartered in Israel, has developed a drug called Circadin that is almost completely lacking of the problems of the currently available drugs for insomnia. The drug is a prolonged release melatonin formulation. Besides Actelion Pharmaceuticals, a leading global pharmaceuticals company based in Switzerland, is investigating a novel mechanism for treating sleep disorders called the orexin system. Orexins are hypothalamic peptides with an important role in regulating the sleep-wake cycle and related hypothalamic functions.
Notwithstanding such advances, a key restraining factor in the discovery of new drugs for not just sleep disorders but all central nervous system (CNS) disorders is the blood brain barrier (BBB). The BBB limits the penetration of drug candidates to such an extent that none of the macromolecules and less than 5 percent of all small molecules can only enter the brain. BBB is often side-tracked when speaking about the challenges faced by the CNS industry, but remains a major hurdle to drug development in this area.
An additional challenge lies in the fact that currently marketed treatments for sleep disorders are all GABA acting drugs. These drugs alter the REM to non-REM sleep ratio. GABA acting drugs also cause undesirable side effects such as somnolence, in which the sleepiness effect is carried into the next day, and hampers daytime functioning. REM sleep is found to be crucial for memory consolidation and, therefore, alters the time spent in REM sleep and impairs memory.
“The BBB problem is one that is difficult to solve but not impossible,” says Ramachandran. “Antiquated methods and techniques need to be abandoned in favor of harnessing endogenous transporters for the ferrying of therapeutic molecules across the BBB. Research in this area is receiving significant attention of late, holding out promise for a plausible solution in the near future.”
Advances in Sleep Pharmaceuticals is part of the Technical Insights Growth Partnership Services. It provides an overview of the ongoing developments in this sector and covers at length on the drivers and challenges that are associated with the same. Furthermore, at the core of the research includes an in-depth assessment of the on-going developments in various pharmaceuticals companies around the world, the mechanism of action targeted, a description of the clinical studies, patents, and collaborations wherever applicable. It also reports on the developments in the academic sector. In this research, Frost & Sullivan's expert analysts examine the drivers, challenges, and trends of this industry and give their insights wherever applicable. Interviews with the press are available.
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