Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that the government plans to double its investment in dementia research by 2025 to £132 million.
The announcement, made ahead of the G8 summit on dementia, is one of a number of investments into dementia research.
There are currently 44 million people in the world living with dementia, and by 2050 this number is set to treble to 135 million. Dementia is one of the greatest pressures on healthcare systems around the world and costs an estimated £370 billion per year.
Currently, the government has committed to spend £52 million on dementia research in 2012 and 2013, rising to up to £66 million by 2015. The ambition is now to double public, commercial and charitable research in dementia in the UK by 2025 to support scientists, universities and other institutions in seeking the next breakthrough.
In addition, the Medical Research Council (MRC) will invest £50 million to better understand how dementia affects the brain, improve early detection and improve treatments to delay progression of the disease; an extra £25 million will go to the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit to better understand the cognitive mechanisms of the brain and to use imaging techniques to identify early signs of dementia in people that would not be picked up through current diagnostic tests.
Elsewhere, the newly-formed UK Dementia Platform, the world’s largest research collaboration into dementia, will bring together researchers and scientists from the public and private sectors. The platform will allow different teams across the UK to share and benefit from each other’s data to increase the scale and scope of their own project.
Wider, there will also be action across Europe. The Innovative Medicines Initiative will invest £44 million (€53 million) in Alzheimer's drug trials; the European Commission will also invest £460 million (€550 million) and issue a call for proposals into research on neurodegenerative diseases, including UK research institutions and universities.
Speaking ahead of the G8 summit, Cameron said: “In the past 2 years we’ve seen £2 billion invested in this country; that will not only mean more jobs and growth, but also more research and greater progress, and it’s a huge sign of confidence in our economy.
“But if we are to beat dementia, we must also work globally, with nations, business and scientists from all over the world working together as we did with cancer, and with HIV and AIDS.”
David Burn, Professor of Movement Disorder Neurology and director of Institute for Ageing and Health at Newcastle University, welcomed the funding boost.
“We all need to step up to the plate and come up with new drugs and treatments to benefit patients with dementia.
“This will come about through good science, good research, and possibly a bit of luck too in terms of discoveries. We can deliver improved diagnosis, but ultimately the public want better treatments, and more research funding will go a long way towards achieving this.”