New Initiatives Launched with €365M to Tackle Major Global Health Problems

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Two initiatives aimed at dealing with major global health problems kicked off this week, with the announcement of a Dementia Discovery Fund with an initial $100 million to encourage a search for new drug targets and de-risk drug development in dementia, and a £175 million Fleming Fund, to address the fact that infectious bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotic drugs.

Both funds pull in international charitable and corporate backers and are spearheaded by the UK government.

The Dementia Discovery Fund will back early stage research to find new targets and bring forward new treatments for dementia, an affliction that in its various forms is now the major cause of disability and dependency in old age. Caring for people with dementia cost $605 billion worldwide in 2012. The incidence of the disease is rising, threatening an unsustainable economic burden.

The fund’s goal is to spur high-risk, early-stage life science research into Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, in an attempt to reduce the risks involved in investing in the field. It is claimed that this is the first global VC fund dedicated to dementia drugs.

Of the $100 million, the UK government put in $22 million to kick start the fund, with GlaxoSmithKline contributing $25 million and Johnson & Johnson $10 million. Three other pharma companies, Biogen Idec, Eli Lilly and Pfizer, have agreed in principle to invest, but have not made any financial commitments public yet.

The charity Alzheimer’s Research UK will contribute €5 million to the fund over five years.

Jeremy Hunt, UK health secretary, announced the fund at the World Health Organisation’s first global ministerial meeting on dementia, held in Geneva this week.

Between 1998 and 2012, 104 drugs entered clinical development as treatments for dementia, of which 101 failed, according to a recent report. The last approval was over a decade ago.

Source: Science|Business (link opens in a new window)

Health Care