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UK, drugmakers establish $100M Alzheimer's venture fund

Published:Wednesday | March 18, 2015 | 3:00 AM
This 2013 file photo, showing people walking along a corridor at the headquarters of Johnson & Johnson in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

NEW JERSEY (AP):

Major drugmakers, the British government and a top Alzheimer's research charity are pooling more than $100 million to create a global fund to accelerate efforts to find a treatment or even a cure for the mind-robbing disease within a decade.

The new Dementia Discovery Fund will function like a venture capital fund. It will identify promising laboratory discoveries in Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, then distribute money to cover costs for the steps needed to prepare for and then begin the first tests in patients, what's called translational research.

Jeremy Hunt, the British health secretary, was to announce the new fund yesterday in Geneva at the World Health Organization's first conference on dementia. The event follows a commitment made at the Dementia G8 Summit in December 2013 to increase investment in such research.

Dementia is one of the world's top health challenges, affecting about 47 million people. That number is expected to double by 2030 and more than triple by 2050 as the global population ages. Meanwhile, dementia already costs the global economy more than $604 billion each year, a figure sure to skyrocket without effective treatments.

Yet despite billions of dollars worth of research over the past couple of decades by government, academic and industry scientists, the handful of approved Alzheimer's medicines only ease symptoms temporarily.

Initial financing for the groundbreaking project has been committed by the British government, the charity Alzheimer's Research UK and five companies: Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly and Co, Pfizer Inc and Biogen Idec Inc in the United States and Britain's GlaxoSmithKline PLC.