A world-leading research fund founded in part by Alzheimer’s Research UK and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has reached a new milestone thanks to a $60m investment from US organisation AARP.
The Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF) makes early stage venture capital investments to develop ground breaking drugs and treatments for all forms of dementia. It is the largest venture fund in the world focused on a single disease area and launched in October 2015. The investment from AARP means the DDF has now met its £250m ($350m USD) target.
The fundraising far exceeded its initial target of £130m ($250m USD), making the DDF the first and largest venture fund focused entirely on discovering and developing novel therapies for dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Hilary Evans, Chief Executive at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “As a founding investor in the Dementia Discovery Fund, we have been thrilled to see the incredible success of this pioneering fundraising effort to support early stage drug discovery. Between two major investments this year, first from Bill Gates and now AARP, investment in the fund has risen by a third in just seven months. This is a clear demonstration that support for dementia research is continuing to grow, as it must if we are to change the outlook for people with dementia.
“This final investment comes at a pivotal time. With an estimated 50 million people living with dementia around the world, we cannot afford to wait any longer to make dementia research a priority. We must continue to use innovative approaches like the Dementia Discovery Fund to catalyse investment and resources to bring about life-changing treatments for dementia.”
Caroline Dinenage, Minister of Care, said: “Dementia is a global challenge. That’s why cross-border cooperation on research and innovation is so important, and why the UK helped found the DDF to help tackle this devastating disease.
“I know our world-leading scientists are making new strides in research and treatment every day, and the DDF will help to support the next generation of discovery.”
Dr Rick Livesey, Gen2 Neuroscience founder and head of Alzheimer’s Research UK Stem Cell Research Centre who received funding from the DDF, said: “Our goal is to develop effective disease-modifying treatments for dementia, and investment from the Dementia Discovery Fund has enabled us to quickly carry out the required research and development with valuable insight. This successful fundraising demonstrates the clear need for new approaches to treat dementia and is a great example of how venture funding can provide an impetus to innovation in novel drug treatments.”
Brenda Whittle, diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s in 2015 and part of the AMARANTH drug trial that was halted earlier this month, said: “At first, I didn’t think there was much going on in terms of research into dementia, but I feel differently now I’ve got a diagnosis of dementia and take part in research. I’ve been involved in a drug trial, which can be difficult, but if they find a treatment, I could be helping thousands of people. Supporting research, from the earliest stages through to clinical trials, is the only way we’re going to give hope to future generations.”