LONDON, Oct 21 (Reuters) - The world's first fund focused on preventing and treating dementia was launched on Wednesday, backed by leading drug companies, with venture capital firm SV Life Sciences appointed as fund manager.
The $100 million Dementia Discovery Fund is unusual in focusing on a single difficult-to-treat disorder and in bringing together both industry and government.
The initiative was announced by British health minister Jeremy Hunt in March, following a Group of Eight nations conference in 2013 that set a goal of finding a cure or effective treatment for dementia by 2025.
The fund is backed by Biogen, GlaxoSmithKline , Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Pfizer and Takeda, along with the British government and Alzheimer's Research UK.
Dementia, of which Alzheimer's is the most common form, affects nearly 50 million people worldwide and the figure is set to reach 135 million by 2050, according to non-profit campaign group Alzheimer's Disease International.
There is still no treatment to slow its progression, with current drugs only easing some of the symptoms.
The fund will back promising research projects and drugmakers then wishing to develop particular ideas will be able to bid for rights, with money raised being reinvested in the fund.
Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by David Goodman