JP Morgan has partnered with the UK government to launch a new multimillion pound fund to encourage research into treatment for dementia.
The New York-based investment bank said it had been working with the government to structure the Dementia Discovery Fund in such a way that it would make a profit for investors while funding research that would ultimately lead to the development of new drugs to treat the condition, which affects around 47m people worldwide.
In addition, a number of major global pharmaceutical companies, including Biogen, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Lilly and Pfizer have agreed in principle to invest in the project, alongside charity group Alzheimer’s Research UK and the UK government.
The announcement of the new Dementia Discovery Fund coincided with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) First Ministerial Conference on Global Action Against Dementia, which took place on Monday and yesterday in Geneva.
UK health secretary Jeremy Hunt unveiled the plans for the $100m (£67.8m) fund at the conference yesterday. The WHO said the event was created so as to increase awareness of the public health challenge posed by dementia, provide a better understanding of governments’ primary role and responsibility in responding to the challenge of dementia, and emphasise the need for coordinated global and national action.
In a statement, JP Morgan said the Dementia Discovery Fund would seek to “bring together the combined expertise and resources of JP Morgan, the UK government, national research organisations, and major pharmaceutical companies”, including its own clients.
It would focus on funding preclinical research identified by dementia experts as having good potential for clinical success, the statement added. Daniel Pinto, chief executive of JP Morgan EMEA, noted that only three new dementia treatment drugs have been approved in the past 15 years.
“It is clear that public private partnership will be essential to accelerate funding and overcome this global health issue,” he added in a statement.
JP Morgan Chase has previously been involved in the development of funding structures designed to pay for research and development into areas of healthcare seen as a public interest priority.
In 2013 it participated, alongside the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in a $108m investment fund that was structured to fund investment into late stage health technologies, such as vaccines, in low income countries.
DEMENTIA: THE FACTS
■ 850,000 people are currently living with dementia in the UK, and this number is projected to rise to more than 2m by 2051.
■ Dementia costs the UK £26.3bn a year (enough, according to the Alzheimer's Society, “to pay the annual energy bill of every household in the country”).
■ 225,000 people develop dementia every year in the UK – which averages out as one person being diagnosed with the disease for the first time every three minutes.
■ Two-thirds of the costs of caring for dementia sufferers in the UK, or around £17.4bn, is picked up by the dementia sufferers themselves, and their families.
■ Although considered an affliction of age, one out of every 20 people suffering with dementia is under the age of 65.
■ Dementia costs more than £30,000 per dementia patient each year; yet only £90 per person is spent on research.
■ Of the various diseases that cause dementia, Alzheimer’s is the most common, accounting for around 62 per cent of cases, according to the Alzheimer's Society.
■ Of the 42,325 people under the age of 65 who are living with dementia in the UK, 20,806 are women – or one in 708 – and 21,519 are men – or one in every 669.
■ Among the many famous suffers of dementia was fantasy author and Discworld series creator Terry Pratchett, who died of Alzheimer’s on 12 March, and who used to refer to it as an “embuggerance”.
■ Other well-known suffers of Alzheimer’s disease have included former US president Ronald Reagan; actress Rita Hayworth; painter Norman Rockwell; and actor Charlton Heston.