The Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF) is a £250m specialist venture capital fund that invests in, and creates, new biotech companies to deliver high impact therapeutics for age-related dementias. By making meaningful, sustained, and actively managed investments we will enable the development of therapeutics addressing one of the largest global unmet medical needs, thus generating significant returns for our investors.
The Dementia Discovery Fund will succeed in this challenging but rewarding space by taking a venture investing approach combined with deep domain expertise and active management. The DDF will invest to rapidly progress diverse approaches into clinical development for all forms of dementia including Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), Parkinson’s Disease Dementia (PDD), Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD), Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), and Huntington’s Disease (HD). The DDF team will leverage learnings from its dementia-focused team and portfolio. By seeking and receiving advice from our sophisticated investor base, our Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), and our network of academic thought leaders, we will make investments deeply informed by rigorous scientific insight and years of experience developing therapeutics. In addition, our portfolio companies have access to a broad group of potential partners and acquirers, including our SAB, portfolio company syndicate partners, and the industry and venture network of our experienced team.
We seek companies led by bold entrepreneurs, across the full spectrum of company and asset stage opportunities. Where we do not see others leading the way to create companies informed by cutting edge science that can make a difference to dementia patients, we will build those companies ourselves, assisted by our bench of experienced entrepreneurs and company creators.
Established in 2015, the Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF) saw its final close at £250 million in 2018 making the DDF the world’s largest venture capital fund focused on discovering and developing novel disease-modifying therapeutics for all forms of dementia. Seven leading pharmaceutical companies – Biogen, Eli Lilly and Company, GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Otsuka (Astex), Pfizer and Takeda – along with AARP, Aegon, Bill Gates, British Patient Capital, NFL Players Association, Quest Diagnostics, UnitedHealth Group, the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care, and the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK (among others) have invested in the DDF.
Advised by SV Health Investors (SV), a leading life sciences venture capital and growth equity firm, the investment and strategic support the DDF can provide is unrivalled. SV has been investing in biotech companies for over 25 years and brings a proven track record of identifying early-stage research opportunities and supporting their development into novel medicines.
The DDF has a mandate to interrogate novel hypotheses and expand the breadth of targets and mechanisms in development for dementia therapies over the life of the fund. This mandate enables the DDF to invest in truly novel, early stage projects starting from target identification onwards to explore novel biological insights for translation into disease modifying drugs.
The Impact of Dementia
The challenge posed by dementia is enormous. As the average age of the population grows, dementia is one of the biggest global health threats we face, and the challenge is growing.
Worldwide, around 50 million people are affected by dementia and every year there are nearly 10 million new cases. According to the World Health Organization, the total number of people with dementia is projected to reach 82 million in 2030 and 152 million in 2050. These demographics include not only AD, but other dementias such as PDD, FTD, ALS and HD.
Dementia is a cruel disease that robs people of their abilities, personality and dignity, creating a significant burden for families and society. Contributing to this burden is the lack of effective treatments for people with dementia. Finding ways to treat this condition is critical but has, so far, proven extremely difficult due to the complexity of the origin and manifestation. As a result, there are currently no existing therapies that have a meaningful impact on the downward progression of dementia symptoms or the disease.
However, the historic difficulty of developing treatments for dementia is not a reason to give up, but a reason to try harder. Scientists are learning from adjacent fields, such as the recent advances in immuno-oncology, and innovative research is opening-up new opportunities beyond the well explored scientific hypotheses.