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Research, Finance Alliance to Fast-Track Alzheimer’s Drugs

Ray Dolby

Ray Dolby (Dolby Family Ventures)

24 July 2015. A coalition of research institute, venture capital firm, and drug discovery company is forming a new enterprise to develop therapy candidates for Alzheimer’s disease from promising lab results. Financial terms of the partnership of Gladstone Institutes and Dolby Family Ventures in San Francisco with Evotec AG in Hamburg, Germany were not disclosed.

Alzheimer’s disease is progressive neurodegenerative disease affecting growing numbers of older people worldwide. The disorder slowly destroys memory and cognitive skills, eventually affecting the ability to carry out even simple day-to-day tasks. Alzheimer’s Foundation of America estimates some 5.1 million people in the U.S. may have Alzheimer’s disease, including a 500,000 under the age of 65. In families with Alzheimer’s disease, 1 to 4 individuals act as caregivers.

The three entities are forming Cure Network Dolby Acceleration Partners LLC, a company established to develop therapy candidates from research findings generated by neurological disease labs at Gladstone Institutes, a not-for profit research institute affiliated with University of California in San Francisco. Dolby Acceleration Partners aims to fill the gap between lab research and drug design, where financing is often lacking, the so-called valley of death where support for academic studies ends and venture capital for drug development is still down the road.

The company’s first two projects from Gladstone’s labs will focus on mechanisms suspected of promoting abnormal nerve cell activity and cognitive decline among people with Alzheimer’s disease. One project is investigating the role of tau proteins that build up in the brain cells of people with Alzheimer’s disease, while a second project is looking into harmful brain rhythms associated with Alzheimer’s disease and signaling proteins associated with those brain rhythms.

Dolby Family Ventures is providing the financing for the partnership through an affiliate, Cure Network Ventures Inc. The company funds early stage technology companies with seed financing, as well as support in later funding rounds.

Dolby Family Ventures aims to reflect the engineering and entrepreneurial philosophy of Ray Dolby, founder of Dolby Laboratories and inventor of audio noise reduction and other signal processing technologies. Ray Dolby died in September 2013 from Alzheimer’s disease and leukemia. His son David Dolby is managing director of Dolby Family Ventures.

Evotec AG offers drug discovery services in the areas of neuroscience, pain, metabolic diseases, oncology, inflammation, and infectious diseases. The company generally works through collaborations with research labs and drug companies, providing target identification and validation, hit identification, and candidate development including biologics.

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