While the industry may be relieved to see venture capital continue to pour into biotech, few may be noticing that companies working in neurological disorders are suddenly getting a larger slice of the pie. After claiming about a 7% share of the venture pool from 1994-2000, neuro plays have taken in $240.7 million - 17% - of the $1.4 billion in venture money raised by biotech companies this year.

No one doubts that a large and growing elderly population makes the market for products to treat neurodegenerative diseases attractive. But that fact alone could hardly be expected to entice VCs, especially after the multiple failures of biotech products in a number of neurodegenerative diseases in the 1990s. Nevertheless, while some diseases such as Huntington's and ALS remain poorly understood, and animal models generally remain unsatisfactory, other things have changed enough to make the field worth a second look.