London, 16 November 2017 – The Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF) today announces an investment from the US National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), to support the DDF’s work in the discovery and development of novel, effective disease-modifying therapeutics for dementia. The DDF, managed by SV Health, is a unique venture fund focused entirely on discovering and developing novel therapies for dementia and was formed through the collaboration of leading pharmaceutical companies, the UK Department of Health and the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK).
The NFLPA investment recognises the importance of advancing the frontiers of medical research to seek effective therapies across a range of neurodegenerative diseases. NFL players have been subjected to traumatic brain injury and this investment is another example of how the union has considered solutions to ensure its members are protected, treated and cared for.
Every year, an estimated 42,000 people suffer a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) or concussion. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which results from the long term, irreversible consequences of repeated mild head impacts, is a progressive disorder with now well characterised neuropathology. CTE has been reported in a range of sportspeople including American Football players, boxers, rugby and soccer players. Its onset is tragically early and its symptoms include mood and behaviour change, impairments to planning, reasoning and short-term memory and motor function, and ultimately dementia.
Kate Bingham, Managing Partner of SV, said: “This investment from the NFLPA is a further recognition of the potential of our approach to lead to important treatments for dementia, and, potentially, a broad range of associated neurodegenerative disorders. At the DDF, we are focusing our efforts on scientific approaches, such as inflammation, mitochondrial function and the preservation and enhancement of healthy brain cells, and these areas are highly likely to be important to CTE or TBI, leading to renewed hope for treatment of these terrible disorders.”
Ahmad Nassar, President of NFL Players, Inc. added: “We believe the DDF’s novel model presents a real opportunity to improve the treatment of neurological diseases, and, importantly for us, provide valuable insights into neurodegenerative disorders which have been associated with our sport. Our investment fits with our strategy of supporting research into new ways to diagnose, treat and prevent common injuries in current and retired NFL players which has included previously supporting projects to slow and reverse the accumulation of Tau protein in the brain which leads to CTE.”
The NFLPA investment into the DDF follows a recent $50m investment by Bill Gates and represents further US interest in the fund, reflecting the global importance of developing new treatments for dementia.
Since its launch in October 2015, the DDF has made significant progress building an initial portfolio of 12 investments in drug discovery companies and projects predominantly in the UK and US in areas including microglial biology and inflammation, mitochondrial dynamics, trafficking and membrane biology and synaptic physiology and function. 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.
The DDF is uniquely positioned to benefit from the expertise of its world-class Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) which includes heads of Neuroscience and/or R&D from seven major pharma companies (Biogen, Eli Lilly and Company, GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Otsuka (Astex), Pfizer and Takeda) and ARUK, who collectively have a large network and experience in neuroscience drug discovery. The SAB provides ongoing advice and knowledge, offers insights on different approaches and historical failures, suggests priority areas to explore new approaches to treat dementia and advises on strategies to drugging these new pathways.
In line with increased investor demand the DDF team will grow, including the appointment of a Chief Executive to lead the organisation.
For further information please visit the DDF website at www.theddfund.com
Dementia Discovery Fund
Laurence Barker, CBO, firstname.lastname@example.org, +44 20 7421 7094
Consilium Strategic Communications
Mary-Jane Elliott, Chris Gardner, Ivar Milligan, Melissa Gardiner
+44 20 3709 5700
About the Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF)
The DDF is a venture capital fund which invests in projects and companies to discover and develop novel, effective disease-modifying therapeutics for dementia. Seven leading pharmaceutical companies (Biogen, Eli Lilly and Company, GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Otsuka (Astex), Pfizer and Takeda), Bill Gates, Woodford Investment Management via Woodford Patient Capital Trust (WPCT), the UK’s Department of Health and charity Alzheimer’s Research UK have invested in the DDF to date. Heads of Neuroscience and R&D represent these strategic investors on the DDF Scientific Advisory Board and work closely with SV’s dedicated team of neuroscientists and experts to identify and evaluate novel approaches for the treatment of dementia. SV won the bid to become Manager in a competitive selection process held in 2015. www.theddfund.com
About SV Health Investors (SV)
SV Health Investors, formerly SV Life Sciences, is a leading healthcare and life sciences venture capital and growth equity firm. SV’s goal is to transform healthcare – one investment at a time – by supporting the entrepreneurs who create and build breakthrough companies and treatments. With over $2 billion in capital under management in seven private healthcare funds, a 20-year track record in the US and Europe and offices in Boston, San Francisco and London, SV drives the development of new, innovative technologies.
About the NFL Players Association
The National Football League Players Association is the union for professional football players in the National Football League. Established in 1956, the NFLPA has a long history of assuring proper recognition and representation of players’ interests. The NFLPA has shown that it will do whatever is necessary to assure that the rights of players are protected—including ceasing to be a union, if necessary, as it did in 1989. In 1993, the NFLPA again was officially recognized as the union representing the players, and negotiated a landmark Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NFL. The current CBA will govern the sport through 2020. Learn more at www.nflpa.com.