New partnership with Lilly to accelerate search for new treatments for dementia

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We are thrilled to announce a new partnership with pharmaceutical company Lilly, which will see us work together to identify new potential treatments for dementia.

Dementia is the leading cause of death in the UK, and yet there are still no treatments that can slow, stop or prevent it. If none are found, the number of people living with dementia in the UK is projected to rise from 850,000 to 1.6 million by 2040. Dementia has a devastating impact on individuals, their families and wider society, and research holds the key to finding treatments that can transform lives. 

Lilly has been committed to creating high-quality medicines that meet real world needs for 140 years. By joining forces with major industry partners such as Lilly, we can draw on the wide and varied expertise in the UK DRI network – from immunology to genetics to bioinformatics and beyond – to hand-pick a bespoke portfolio for support. 

In the first phase of this exciting new partnership, Lilly worked with us to select three projects to explore promising new avenues for treatments. They will provide funding for an initial two years, with the possibility of extending for a third year after review. Lilly has committed an investment of over £1 million for this first round of projects.

We hope this will be the start of a long, productive partnership with Lilly to find treatments that are so desperately needed by those affected by all types of dementia. Prof Bart De Strooper, Director of the UK DRI

The three first projects to receive Lilly’s support as part of this partnership are as follows:

  • Prof Caleb Webber, UK DRI at Cardiff – using genetics and bioinformatics to model Parkinson’s disease
  • Prof Adrian Isaacs, UK DRI at UCL – developing models to explore a possible gene therapy for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • Prof Giampietro Schiavo, UK DRI at UCL – exploring ways of modulating regulation of the tau protein

Prof Bart De Strooper, Director of the UK DRI, commented: 

“We have made substantial progress in recent years to understand the complex mechanisms that underpin neurodegeneration. Translating this knowledge into treatments that can slow or stop the progression of disease is always our ultimate aim, and we’re excited to work with Lilly to accelerate this process. We hope this will be the start of a long, productive partnership with Lilly to find treatments that are so desperately needed by those affected by all types of dementia.”

Kay Penicud, UK DRI Director of Business and Innovation, commented: 

"By combining our scientific expertise with Lilly’s knowledge and experience of bringing treatments to market, we have been able to design a programme that has the best chance of making a breakthrough and delivering real-world impact. It has been a pleasure to work with Lilly’s team to identify which projects to focus on initially, and we look forward to building on this foundation to develop a truly groundbreaking partnership.”

Mike Hutton, Ph.D., vice president, Neurodegeneration Research at Lilly, said: 

“Lilly is committed to bringing new therapies to slow or halt the progression of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease and ALS. By forming this new and exciting partnership with the UK DRI, we hope to further our understanding of the molecular mechanisms that underlie human neurodegenerative disease and to identify novel therapeutic approaches.”

Suchira Bose, Ph.D., Neurodegeneration Target and Discovery Leader at Lilly, said: 

“We are delighted to partner with scientists at the UK DRI to identify and validate novel targets for neurogenerative disorders. By collaborating with world renowned scientists in their field and leveraging Lilly’s translational capabilities, this partnership could provide impactful insights into therapeutic interventions for neurodegenerative diseases.”

If you would like to talk to the UK DRI about joining forces to bring a new intervention, treatment or technology to the market, please don’t hesitate to contact Kay Penicud.

Article published: 16 December 2020