London and Boston, 3 May 2017 – The Dementia Discovery Fund, an innovative global investment fund managed by SV Life Sciences and launched in 2015 to develop disease modifying drugs for dementia, today announced a $5 million investment in the initial financing round of start-up drug discovery company, Cerevance.
With locations in Boston, Massachusetts and Cambridge, UK, Cerevance is harnessing a proprietary technology platform, invented in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute laboratory of Nathaniel Heintz, Ph.D., at Rockefeller University. The technology will enable the molecular analysis of specific cell types in human brain tissue rather than relying on animal models to reveal critical pathways and receptors present in vulnerable cell populations as well as molecular responses in those cell populations to diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
“We are eager to see Cerevance immediately apply its powerful approach to dementia,” said Tetsuyuki Maruyama, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer of the Dementia Discovery Fund who will serve on Cerevance’s Board of Directors. “Our Scientific Advisory Board, which contains senior R&D leaders from seven global pharmaceutical and biotech companies, is confident that Cerevance will make breakthrough discoveries, enabling the company to advance new medicines that may prevent, slow or reverse the process of a broad range of devastating dementias.”
“There are 50 million dementia patients worldwide, and 10 million more being diagnosed each year,” said Laurence Barker, Ph.D., Chief Business Officer of the Dementia Discovery Fund. “With exceptional science, a strong sense of urgency, a leadership team that has previously succeeded together in drug discovery and solid investor support, Cerevance is well positioned to deliver lifechanging therapeutics for dementia patients.”
“It is thrilling to welcome an investor whose strategic focus is so perfectly aligned with our mission,” said Brad Margus, Chief Executive Officer of Cerevance. “The investment team and strategic investors involved with the Dementia Discovery Fund will give Cerevance access to a dream team of world-class advisors.”
Together with the $36 million in commitments of equity and non-dilutive capital from Lightstone Ventures and Takeda Pharmaceuticals Company, Ltd. (TSE: 4502) announced in December, the new company has now raised over $41 million.
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 (GSK, Biogen, Lilly, Takeda, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Astex, a subsidiary of Otsuka), 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 Life Sciences won the bid to become Manager in a competitive selection process held in 2015. www.theddfund.com
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) accounts for over 60% of cases of dementia, and affects 1% of the world’s population. At 85 years of age, there is a 50% chance of developing AD, and the incidence is increasing with aging demographics. Initial symptoms include difficulty remembering recent events, which progresses to disorientation, mood changes, and loss of motivation. Patients become wheelchair bound and entirely dependent on caregivers. The impact of dementia is therefore on the patient, their family, and wider society. AD charities actively highlight the societal impact of AD. The World Alzheimer Report estimates that costs are split 20% on medical care, 40% on social services, and 40% on primary caregivers. Caregiving often has a negative impact on health, employment, income and family finances. The World Alzheimer Report (2015) has estimated that the annual costs associated with dementia amounted to 1% of the world’s gross domestic product ($600 billion in 2010, rising to $818 billion in 2015). The report estimates that 35.6 million people worldwide were living with dementia in 2010. It forecasts 66 million by 2030, and 115 million by 2050.
Dementia Discovery Fund:
Dr Laurence Barker, Chief Business Officer
Rob Middlebrook, Chief Financial Officer