Dementia Discovery Fund reels in $350M for disease-modifying drugs

Money
The Dementia Discovery Fund launched in 2015 with $100 million in capital from a range of Big Pharma companies, the U.K. government and the nonprofit Alzheimer's Research UK. (NikolayFrolochkin)

The Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF) completed its fundraising Monday, capping its haul at £250 million ($350 million). The VC fund, backed by various entities, including government departments and Big Pharma, was nudged across the finish line with a $60 million investment from AARP.

The fund launched in 2015 with the goal of delivering new drug approaches for both the diagnosis and treatment of dementia by 2025. It emphasized early intervention and disease-modifying treatments. SV Health Investors manages the DDF.

It started out with $100 million in committed capital from Biogen, Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Takeda, as well as the U.K. government’s Department of Health and the nonprofit Alzheimer’s Research UK. Others joined along the way, including Bill Gates, Neil Woodford and the NFL Players Association. The completed fundraising surpasses the fund’s initial target of £130 million ($200 million).

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Since launch, the fund has put together a portfolio of 16 investments, including Alector, Mitoconix and Cerevance.

RELATED: Bill Gates pledges $50M for Alzheimer’s disease fund

“The DDF team believes there is a significant opportunity to develop dementia drugs targeting biological pathways beyond the prevailing amyloid beta hypothesis and to apply insights from areas such as oncology and immunology to develop novel drugs targeting these other biological pathways that may drive different forms of dementia,” DDF said in a statement.

The fund also announced a new CEO: pharma vet Angus Grant, most recently the VP of business development at Celgene. Grant has also worked at Novartis, Merck KGaA and SmithKline Beecham, before it merged with Glaxo Wellcome.

“The investment from the AARP is further recognition of the potential of our unique approach to finding important treatments for dementia that alter the course of disease and, potentially, a broad range of associated neurodegenerative disorders,” said Kate Bingham, managing partner of SV Health Investors. “The investment will also provide the DDF with broader reach, access and visibility to the older community, for whom dementia is a growing risk.”

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