The FINANCIAL — Johnson & Johnson announced on October 21 that Husseini K. Manji, MD, FRCPC, Global Therapeutic Head for Neuroscience at Janssen Research & Development, LLC, one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, has been appointed to the Scientific Advisory Board of the newly launched, U.K. Government-led global Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF).
As one of the founding collaborators, Johnson & Johnson has invested $10 million in the DDF, which was created to deliver new treatment approaches for dementia by 2025. The DDF, led by the UK Government Department of Health, will work with universities, academic institutions, and the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry internationally to identify novel dementia and Alzheimer’s research projects.
The DDF will invest more than $100 million of support to therapies through the pre-clinical phase of development, enabling further research in clinical trials. The Fund’s priorities are to explore and develop novel hypotheses in dementia research and to increase global interest and confidence in the value of dementia research, according to Johnson & Johnson.
The DDF Scientific Advisory Board includes representatives from each of the Fund’s strategic investors and world-leading international academics. Members of the Advisory Board will share expertise, expand the DDF’s strategic networks and advise the investment team to further the goal of ultimately treating or curing Alzheimer’s disease.
“Alzheimer’s disease is one of the world’s most critical public health problems,” said Paul Stoffels, Chief Scientific Officer and Worldwide Chairman, Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson. “We are proud that Dr. Manji, one of the world’s leading neuroscientists, will help drive efforts to beat this terrible disease. Working together with industry, government, and other partners, we will advance brain research, leading to innovative, disease-modifying treatments for patients with dementia. We are bringing together diverse thinking and different approaches to the fight for new treatments or a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.”
Dr. Manji previously served as Chief, Laboratory of Molecular Pathophysiology & Experimental Therapeutics, U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), and director of the NIH Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program, the largest program of its kind in the world. He is also a visiting professor at Duke University. Dr. Manji is a member of the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine (IOM), and served as Chair, IOM Interest Group on Neuroscience, Behavior and Brain Function.
The major focus of Dr. Manji’s research has been the investigation of disease- and treatment-induced changes in gene and protein networks that regulate synaptic and neural plasticity in neuropsychiatric disorders. His work has helped to conceptualize these illnesses as genetically-influenced disorders of synaptic and neural plasticity, and has led to the investigation of novel therapeutics for refractory patients.
Johnson & Johnson’s investment in the DDF was made through its affiliate venture arm, Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc. Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies have a strong tradition of investment in innovative science and collaborations in Alzheimer’s disease. Janssen has a comprehensive Alzheimer’s disease research and development program, focused on slowing and preventing disease progression. Janssen researchers are studying hallmarks of the illness – amyloid plaques, tau tangles and loss of nerve cell connections in the brain, all of which can lead to Alzheimer’s dementia. Their research projects include small molecule treatments, antibodies and therapeutic vaccines. Janssen also has many current scientific collaborations in this area.