As the UK hosts the first G8 summit on dementia research, a new £3 million Dementia Consortium bringing together research experts from the charitable, academic and private sectors has launched to expedite development of new drugs for dementia. The Dementia Consortium unites the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK with life science technology transfer experts MRC Technology and two pharmaceutical companies; Eisai and Lilly.
The Consortium will seek to end the long wait since the last dementia treatment by closing the gap between fundamental academic research and the pharmaceutical industry’s drug discovery programmes. The Dementia Consortium will provide funding, resources and expertise to both increase the number of, and capitalise upon, new drug targets emerging from across the academic sector that hold promise of bringing patient benefit.
The Dementia Consortium will fund leading academic dementia research experts from Alzheimer’s Research UK and MRC Technology’s networks in the UK and overseas to develop early findings into validated drug targets. Academic teams will work with MRC Technology’s world-leading Centre for Therapeutics Discovery to help confirm viable drug targets for further development.
Promising targets will be made available in the first instance to the Consortium’s pharmaceutical member companies Eisai and Lilly who are able to agree terms of collaboration with the academic partner and share data from any previous work on particular drug targets.
The Consortium has made £3m available (£2m from Alzheimer’s Research UK and £500k from both Eisai and Lilly) and a call will go out in the UK and internationally for academic teams to apply for funding to develop their targets. Applications will be submitted to the Consortium by April 2014, with projects underway mid-year. Pre-registration is now open at www.dementiaconsortium.org
Dr Eric Karran, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, said: “The G8 is an ideal platform to launch this important drug discovery collaboration as it exemplifies the new kind of partnership we need to produce breakthrough treatments. The Dementia Consortium draws on the strengths of the academic and industrial research sectors and unites them with a view to producing patient benefits more quickly. It will complement the work of our new Drug Discovery Institute, allowing us to both invest in dedicated drug discovery resource as well as supporting the ideas from across the dementia research sector as a whole. Over 35 million people live with dementia worldwide, a number set to increase as populations live ever longer. We must feed more promising drug targets into the development pipeline, and the Dementia Consortium will do just that.”
Professor Justin Bryans, Director of Drug Discovery at MRC Technology added: “We are delighted that our Centre for Therapeutics Discovery will be able to use its proven drug discovery capabilities to validate promising dementia targets. This new consortium model leads the way by bringing together the very best charity, industry and academic expertise in precompetitive collaboration to accelerate much needed treatments towards patients. We hope to develop further consortia based on this model for other areas of unmet medical need.”
Dr Lynn Kramer, Chief Clinical Officer, Eisai Co. Ltd and President, Neuroscience & General Medicine PCU, Eisai Product Creation Systems, said: “Dementia is a condition that devastates families and is a significant unmet medical need due to current lack of effective treatments to prevent disease progression. Within the Dementia Consortium, we hope that our complementary expertise will combine to validate potential new drug targets that can be utilised to identify life changing therapeutics for dementia patients and their families. The Dementia Consortium has exciting implications for increasing the progression and expansion of dementia drug discovery research in the UK.”
Eli Lilly and Company’s Chief Scientific Officer for Neurodegeneration Dr Mike Hutton said: “Lilly is delighted to be part of this innovative collaboration, which we believe will help speed the development of new treatments for dementia by accessing the remarkable quality of UK academic research in this area. Lilly have been active in Alzheimer’s disease research for 25 years, and we believe it is through collaboration between industry, charities and academia that we will increase the number of potential drug targets that can be investigated and which could become the medicines of the future.”