$100m global Dementia Discovery Fund

Today the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt announced plans for a $100m global Dementia Discovery Fund at the inaugural WHO Global Action Against Dementia meeting in Geneva. Alzheimer’s Research UK is delighted to be part of this unique and innovative initiative, a world first for dementia research.

What is the Fund?

The Investment Fund will bring much needed new money into dementia research, but importantly also represents a new way of doing things. It will ensure some of the best minds in commercial drug discovery focus their efforts on dementia, widening the breadth of focus in the area and increasing our chances of success.

The fund will be based on a venture capital model, which has proved successful in other disease areas, using commercial expertise and resources to scour the globe for the research ideas that offer the greatest potential to be turned into treatments as quickly as possible. This has never been tried before in dementia.

Partners in the fund (including Biogen, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Lilly and Pfizer) will all commit money, which will then be invested in assets (promising drug targets) to support the research that will be required to take them to a stage where they are ready to be tested in the clinic. Once they reach this stage the Fund will look to licence the asset to the pharmaceutical industry, or other relevant partner, and therefore receive a return on the initial investment. This creates a structure for Alzheimer’s Research UK that, most importantly, provides much need to new investment into dementia research, but also offers the opportunity for Alzheimer’s Research UK to share in the potential profits of any successful treatment – which we would then reinvest into dementia research. The primary motivation for Alzheimer’s Research UK is not the return on investment; history tells us the chances of return in dementia drug discovery are low (although the size of the financial return ten or 15 years in the future could be large if we are successful), but that we are part of an innovative new funding initiative that increases the chances of getting treatments to the 850,000 people in the UK with dementia and the millions who will develop the disease in the coming years.

How it complements existing Alzheimer’s Research UK initiatives

At Alzheimer’s Research UK we have developed a number of key strategic initiatives aimed at getting treatments to patients as quickly as possible (see blogs on the Drug Discovery Alliance and Dementia Consortium as examples) and the investment fund complements these. It will harness the combined expertise and resources of government, the private sector, and the leading dementia research charity to scour the globe for promising assets that offer the best chance of being turned into effective treatments.


  1. Robert Rowlands on 20th March 2015 at 4:23 pm

    “Alzheimer’s Warning Alert” – AWA project.

    Early detection of the possibility of contracting Alzheimer’s disease in later life enables medical advice and what-so-ever precautionary measures are available to be taken long before the disease becomes debilitating. This is now possible using the innovation we have ready to market and now seeking funding through Worldspan Innovations, who examine new ideas for possible onward development. RR

  2. Robert Rowlands on 21st March 2015 at 11:10 am

    Early Alzheimer’s prediction

    The “Alzheimer’s Warning Alert” – AWA – gives notice of the likelihood of contracting this disease in later life. The modus operandi is based upon a long proven method used to resolve another medical disability. The AWA buys time and is a stop-gap prior to a cure being discovered. It gives potential victims the opportunity to seek medical advice and precautionary measures long before the disease sets in.The Alzheimer’s associations and societies have long been crying out for some sort of early detection method. The AWA can do this, but needs funding to bring it to an international market. Simple to use in the home and very affordable it can monitor users on a regular basis for any loss of mental faculties thus anticipating later mental deterioration.

  3. Dr Robert Peers on 23rd March 2015 at 11:03 am

    All this huffing and puffing to find an Alzheimer cure seems hardly necessary, to those few hardy independent souls who understand protein aggregation diseases. Removing amyloid–and also tau if possible!–is definitely one way to go: but the monoclonal antibodies that do this trick are not cheap [for mass administration to millions], and do have side-effects.

    The other option is to restore and enhance the brain’s natural attempt to clear toxic protein aggregates, which gradually fails by the later years, allowing the disease to get rolling. We need a protein chaperone booster, a champion molecule to save the brain–in both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s–and I know just the molecule to do the trick: it is found in the common diet of centenarians, it is absolutely anti-ageing, it enhances natural clearance of toxic protein clusters, and it is cheap.

    It is also made in the human body–naturally!! I have totally cured an early-stage Alzheimer case in her mid-70s–for two years now–with this simple plant compound. I have approached a certain State Health Minister in Australia, regarding the possible design of a drug that would boost the body’s own level of this compound, and if this works out as expected, we would have the biggest blockbuster drug of all time!

    For not only would the drug reverse early-stage neurodegenerative diseases, but lower doses have an independent anti-anxiety effect [reducing food cravings, smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes etc.], while the minimal dose would predictably afford indisputable anti-ageing effects, including robust immunity and quite unusual stamina. The late Buster Martin had this substance in his diet, and who can forget this old geezer doing the London Marathon, at 94, with 5 stops for a beer and a smoke!!!

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About the author

Dr Matthew Norton

Dr Matthew Norton joined Alzheimer's Research UK as Head of Policy and Public Affairs in 2013 and lead on policy development and stakeholder engagement up to 2018. He has a PhD in Social Policy and experience of supporting the design and running of bio-medical and clinical research for the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). Matthew has also worked as a Senior Policy Advisor at the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit and prior to joining Alzheimer’s Research UK worked in policy and research for Age UK.