Infectious and Parasitic Diseases: Innovating to Meet Diverse Global Challenges

5 Feb

By Lucy Parkinson, Senior Research Manager, LSN

Previous articles have provided overviews of innovation and investors in the cardiovascular, oncology, and neurology sectors. Infectious disease is also a major field of innovation; LSN researchers track 567 clinical-stage therapeutics globally that are targeting an infectious or parasitic disease.

Perhaps the most striking distinction of the infectious disease space, compared with sectors we’ve examined previously, is its breadth. The nature of the infectious disease field is one of constant change and local variation, with researchers focused on a multiplying array of threats throughout the world.

In fact, if we take a look at the specific diseases targeted by these innovations, the largest single category is “other.” This stands in contrast to fields where innovation is primarily focused on a few major unmet needs, such as Alzheimer’s in neurology. That said, some infectious diseases, such as HIV and hepatitis C, do have thriving pipelines. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1 | Source: LSN Company Platform, Data as of February 4, 2015

The assets covered by Figure 1 range from those that have only recently entered clinical trials to products close to achieving market approval. Of these assets, the greatest number are currently in Phase II. (See Figure 2.)


Figure 2 | Source: LSN Company Platform, Data as of February 4, 2015

Infectious disease innovations are coming from a number of countries. The U.S. leads the world in infectious disease assets, however, the UK, France, and the Asia-Pacific region also have strength in this field. (See Figure 3.)


Figure 3 | Source: LSN Company Platform, Data as of February 4, 2015

LSN researchers have interviewed more than 300 investors who are interested in this field, and many are interested in companies worldwide. (See Figure 4.)


Figure 4 | Source: LSN Investor Platform, Data as of February 4, 2015

Similarly, we see investors of every type that LSN classifies as active in the infectious disease field. (See Figure 5.)


Figure 5 | Source: LSN Investor Platform, Data as of February 4, 2015

As you can see, there’s no shortage of investors looking into the infectious disease field.  Venture capital and private equity funds are interested in the potential return on investment from infectious disease cures; recent blockbuster drugs in the hepatitis C field have demonstrated how much profit can be made from tackling infection.  Many government organizations fund infectious disease technologies due to an interest in bio-security and public health.  We also discovered last week that infectious disease is one of the top ten areas for venture philanthropy foundations that fund start-up companies; many major global health charities are interested in working with start-ups in this field.

Infectious disease research focuses on fighting urgent and widespread needs, and we find that many investors are willing to take on the challenges of this field.

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