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Funding Dementia Discovery


Dementia breakthroughs are firmly on the agenda in the UK after the government and J. P. Morgan announced a $100-million Dementia Discovery Fund to help finance new drugs. The Fund is being backed by Alzheimer’s Research UK and a number of pharmaceutical companies including Biogen, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Johnson & Johnson, Lilly and Pfizer, who have all committed “in principle” to invest in the project.

Medicines in clinical development for dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases have a 95 percent chance of failure – double the failure rate seen in other areas of research. Only three new dementia treatment drugs have been approved in the past 15 years.

“The rise of dementia is fast becoming one of the world’s greatest health threats,” said Patrick Vallance, GSK’s President of Pharmaceutical R&D, in a recent press release. “This Fund is a really smart way of bringing together great minds and communally increasing our understanding of dementia. It’s also a good way of sharing the financial risk associated with conducting drug discovery research in this field.”

The investment is being structured as a typical venture capitalist fund, but is apparently the first to focus solely on dementia research. Promising early-stage research programs to invest in will be scoured from across the globe, with a scientific advisory board of representatives from each of the partner organizations providing input during the selection process. Any proceeds from the eventual license or sale of programs will be returned to the Fund and its investors.

In a blog post, Lilly’s global brand development leader for Alzheimer’s disease added, “When Lilly scientists began researching Alzheimer’s disease more than 26 years ago, I imagine they expected we would have made more progress by 2015. As a field, we have made progress, and continue to do so today. But now is the time to take our learnings across the finish line to confront one of the largest global health challenges in developed and developing nations alike.”

The Fund was announced by the UK’s health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, at the World Health Organization’s First Ministerial Conference on Global Action Against Dementia.

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About the Author
Stephanie Vine

Making great scientific magazines isn’t just about delivering knowledge and high quality content; it’s also about packaging these in the right words to ensure that someone is truly inspired by a topic. My passion is ensuring that our authors’ expertise is presented as a seamless and enjoyable reading experience, whether in print, in digital or on social media. I’ve spent fourteen years writing and editing features for scientific and manufacturing publications, and in making this content engaging and accessible without sacrificing its scientific integrity. There is nothing better than a magazine with great content that feels great to read.

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