Spinal Muscular Atrophy– there are no approved drugs:

Charcot Marie Tooth Disease – there are no approved drugs:

Dr. Kevin Hodgetts

Director of ​The Laboratory for Drug Discovery in Neurodegeneration

65 Landsdowne Street 

Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139


Telephone: 617-768-8640 

Email:  khodgetts@partners.org



4.Diphenhydramine.  Originally discovered by George Rieveschl at the University of Cincinnati.  Original FDA approval in 1946.

The discovery of modern antidepressants can also be traced back to diphenhydramine and the unexpected observation that it produced weak antidepressant effects.  Structural modification of diphenhydramine, combined with advances in mechanistic understanding of the monoamine pharmacology, ultimately led to the discovery of Prozac, the first “selective” serotonin reuptake inhibitor and numerous other SSRIs such as Escitalopram.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) – 0 out of 1 approved drug:

Riluzole is the only approved treatment for ALS.

Parkinson’s Disease – Four out of 14 approved drugs:

1.L-Dopa.  Several academics contributed significantly along the way. Arvid Carlsson at the University of Lund, Sweden, in the 1950’s discovered that levodopa (L-dopa) could alleviate the immobility induced by reserpine in animals. Carlsson then showed that reserpine depleted brain dopamine, and that l-dopa restored it. Human observations were made by by Oliver Sacks at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the late 1960’s.  Original FDA approval in 1970.

2.Selegiline (Zelapar).  Discovered by Joseph Knoll at Semmelweis University in Budapest.  Original FDA approval in 1986.

3.Rasagiline (Azilect).  Discovered by Moussa Youdim and John Finberg at Faculty of Medicine in Technion, Israel Institute of Technology.  Developed by Teva and Lundbeck.  Original FDA approval in 2006.

Drugs for neurodegeneration discovered in academia.

Alzheimer’s – Two out of four approved drugs:

1.Rivastigmine (Exelon).  Discovered by Marta Weinstock at Hebrew University, Jerusalem.  Original FDA approval in 1997.

2.Tacrine (Cognex).  Originally discovered by Adrien Albert at University of Sydney, Australia, but it was not until the early 1980’s that William Summers at UCLA discovered Tacrine’s effects on dementia.  Original FDA approval in 1993.

Drugs Discovered in Academia for Neurodegenerative Diseases

Brigham and

Women's Hospital


​ Medical School

Laboratory for Drug Discovery in Neurodegeneration

Collaborating to Discover New Treatments for Neurodegenerative Diseases