Still Alice

Watching Julianne Moore on the big screen isn’t normally on the agenda of your average healthcare conference. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find any Hollywood film gracing the pages of these events. But this week down under in Perth, Australia, 1,600 people are getting together to watch an Oscar-winning film about a woman who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Her name is Alice.

Alice’s story is part of this week’s 30th International Conference of Alzheimer’s Disease International. Of the 47.5 million people with dementia worldwide, 60-70% suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a fitting film for a conference that brings together not only healthcare professionals and scientists working in the field, but also people with dementia, and their family members, friends and caregivers. They are each there to share, exchange and learn about the latest innovations in dementia care, but one key innovation will remain missing - there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

We at Lilly believe, like many others, that a breakthrough discovery to cure Alzheimer’s disease will require an innovative approach. For this reason, we’re proud of our commitment to the Global Dementia Discovery Fund, a $100 million dollar venture capital fund, launched by the UK government. It’s an exciting new structure that brings together the expertise of J.P. Morgan with that of stakeholders from across the healthcare sector including Alzheimer’s Research UK, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson and Biogen alongside Lilly to back new and innovative ways to prevent and treat dementia.

Lilly and other partners will provide expert scientific input during the selection of research programmes, and advice during clinical development. It is hoped that by providing critical financial resources and expert guidance during the early stages of research, the development of innovative new treatments for this disease can be accelerated. Our collaboration to tackle Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t end there. Lilly has also partnered up with AstraZeneca’s Neuroscience Innovative Medicines Unit to research how to change the course of Alzheimer’s disease.

Further collaboration across Europe to tackle the disease is also kicking off. In announcing a national program to address dementia beginning in July, Luxembourg also affirmed dementia as one of the main health priorities for their upcoming EU Presidency. This includes the potential establishment of an EU-wide dementia strategy and permanent governmental expert forum at EU level. Meanwhile the European Commission has already launched a second EU-Joint Action on dementia (2015-2018).

These initiatives and our work on Alzheimer’s disease are particularly important to us. We recognize the significant burden this illness causes for patients, caregivers and our society and we are deeply committed to finding ways that change and modify the course of the disease. By forging close partnerships, the global health community can take the steps needed to ensure timely diagnosis and treatment of this disease.