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For Immediate Release
November 16, 2017

NFL Players Association Invests in Dementia Discovery Fund
Investment in venture capital fund seeks new, effective research breakthroughs to treat neurodegenerative diseases.

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) is investing in the Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF), a venture capital fund based in London and Boston and managed by SV Health. The DDF is focused on discovering and developing treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, in particular those that are associated with dementia. This investment continues the NFLPA’s commitment and legacy to research that can improve the long-term health and well-being of NFL players.

The NFLPA began evaluating the investment nearly a year ago as a part of its ongoing effort to advance innovative methods to identify and translate novel scientific hypotheses in dementia research into disease modifying therapies. The DDF, formed in 2015, is a unique venture fund focused entirely on discovering and developing novel therapies for dementia and was formed through the collaboration of leading pharmaceutical companies, the UK Department of Health and the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK).
 
The DDF has already made significant progress building an initial portfolio of 12 investments in drug discovery companies and projects predominantly in the UK and US in areas including microglial biology and inflammation, mitochondrial dynamics, trafficking and membrane biology and synaptic physiology and function.  The DDF team believes there is a significant opportunity to develop dementia drugs targeting biological pathways beyond the prevailing amyloid beta hypothesis and to apply insights from areas such as oncology and immunology to develop novel drugs targeting these other biological pathways that may drive different forms of dementia.
 
“This union has been vigilant about its commitment to the long-term health, safety and well-being of our players,” NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said. “For the same reason that we instituted rule changes, concussion protocols and pay for post-career neurological benefits, our capital investment in this fund complements our current investment initiatives with the Harvard Football Players Health Study. I am proud of the work we do to protect our current and former members and aid the overall health of everyone suffering from neurological conditions.”

Ahmad Nassar, president of NFL Players, Inc., said: “We believe the DDF’s novel model presents a real opportunity to improve the treatment of neurological diseases, and, importantly for us, provide valuable insights into neurodegenerative disorders which have been associated with our sport. Our investment fits with our strategy of supporting research into new ways to diagnose, treat and prevent common injuries in current and retired NFL players, which has included previously supporting projects to slow and reverse the accumulation of Tau protein in the brain that leads to CTE.”

Kate Bingham, Managing Partner of SV, said: “This investment from the NFLPA is a further recognition of the potential of our approach to lead to important diagnosis and treatments for dementia, and, potentially, a broad range of associated neurodegenerative disorders. At the DDF, we are focusing our efforts on scientific approaches, such as inflammation, mitochondrial function and the preservation and enhancement of healthy brain cells, and these areas are highly likely to be important to CTE or TBI, leading to renewed hope for treatment of these terrible disorders.”
 

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About the NFL Players Association:
The National Football League Players Association is the union for professional football players in the National Football League. Established in 1956, the NFLPA has a long history of assuring proper recognition and representation of players’ interests. The NFLPA has shown that it will do whatever is necessary to assure that the rights of players are protected—including ceasing to be a union, if necessary, as it did in 1989. In 1993, the NFLPA again was officially recognized as the union representing the players, and negotiated a landmark Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NFL. The current CBA will govern the sport through 2020. Learn more at www.nflpa.com.

About the Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF)
The DDF is a venture capital fund which invests in projects and companies to discover and develop novel, effective disease-modifying therapeutics for dementia. Seven leading pharmaceutical companies (Biogen, Eli Lilly and Company, GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Otsuka (Astex), Pfizer and Takeda), Bill Gates, Woodford Investment Management via Woodford Patient Capital Trust (WPCT), the UK’s Department of Health and charity Alzheimer’s Research UK have invested in the DDF to date. Heads of Neuroscience and R&D represent these strategic investors on the DDF Scientific Advisory Board and work closely with SV’s dedicated team of neuroscientists and experts to identify and evaluate novel approaches for the treatment of dementia. SV won the bid to become Manager in a competitive selection process held in 2015. www.theddfund.com

About SV Health Investors (SV)
SV Health Investors, formerly SV Life Sciences, is a leading healthcare and life sciences venture capital and growth equity firm. SV’s goal is to transform healthcare – one investment at a time – by supporting the entrepreneurs who create and build breakthrough companies and treatments. With over $2 billion in capital under management in seven private healthcare funds, a 20-year track record in the US and Europe and offices in Boston, San Francisco and London, SV drives the development of new, innovative technologies.

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