Sunday, January 3, 2010

Upcoming Boom in Neuroscience: To Be Rich is Glorious

Or, is a Sucker Born Every Minute?  Remember, we did go through two big asset booms:  the dot coms and then the real estate.  But, at least, the dot com boom brought us the Internet and led to the boom-let in Web 2.0 and Smart Phones.  But, did all the craziness really have to happen?   While the upside was so high,  the downside was so low.  In her book, Evolve!, A Harvard professor, Rossabeth Kantor, had a chapter on Waves of Raves:  Strategy as Improvised Theater.   In short, we were running around just throwing things together.

So, we are starting to see some of the same sort of touting going on in neurotechnology. I suppose it is human nature.  On the other hand, there are some good things happening as well.  Neurotechnology as a industry is beginning to grow. The neurotech industry is already substantial and growing rapidly, accounting for more than $130 billion in revenues in 2007 according to MIT News.

Neurotechnology, is being enabled  by nanobiochips and brain imaging technologies that will make neurological analysis inexpensive and pervasive.Nanobiochips that perform the basic bio-analysis functions (genomic, proteomic, biosimulation, and microfluidics) at a low cost will transform biological analysis and production in a very similar fashion as the microprocessor did for data during the information technology wave.

Nano-imaging techniques will make possible real-time analysis of neuro-molecular level events in the human brain.

When data from biochips and brain imaging are combined they will enable the development of neuroceuticals. Neuroceuticals are tools that will reduce the severity of mental disorders and improve mental health.

Neuroceuticals can be broadly categorized into three classes:Cogniceuticals (enhanced cognition), Emoticeuticals (enhanced emotional capacity and stability), and Sensoceuticals (enhanced sensory processing).

Today's pharmaceutical development process where a new drug can take 15 years and can cost over $800m. By 2020 new neuroceuticals will take less than 2 years to develop and cost under $10m.

By influencing multiple personality characteristics, neuroceuticals will shape how people perceive daily issues. New behaviors will emerge that culminate into a substantially different behavior repertoire than people currently encounter. A person who is slightly less depressed, slightly less anxious, slightly more aware, and with slightly better recall behave differently than people do today.  Individuals that utilize nootropics  (say to forecast emotions) will become more productive. 

So we are seeing a confluence of new technologies create products with new properties.  These products will be difficult to review as not many journals or peer review panels are diverse enough to review them.