Chancellor George Osborne is to announce a £15 million boost for research to find new treatments to slow down or prevent the onset of dementia.
The spending, to be confirmed in today’s Autumn Statement, will kick-start a new multi- million-pound fund to pool investment from the public, private and philanthropic sectors for dementia research.
The plan was unveiled as a dementia nurse went to Cabinet to train senior ministers to become “dementia friends”.
With one million people expected to be living with dementia in the UK in ten years’ time, David Cameron has made the illness a key priority, launching the Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge in 2012 and hosting the first dedicated G8 event on dementia last year.
Mr Cameron said: “Britain has led the global battle against dementia and last year brought the world’s most powerful nations together in London for a G8 summit on this terrible disease. At that meeting, I made clear there had to be a big global push to find new treatments and a cure for dementia.”
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He added: “We will announce new funding to help drive forward the search for new drugs to beat dementia. The government will commit £15m to help kick-start a fund and attract the private sector investment needed for this crucial work. As I said last year, dementia is one of the greatest enemies of humanity and we must all play our part defeating it.”
The fund aims to provide an attractive vehicle for the private sector to invest in a range of research projects identified by global scientists as having the best potential for future success, amid concern that the market is currently failing to generate sufficient money to make a breakthrough.
The government has already increased the amount the UK will spend on dementia research to £66m by next year.
Globally, 36 million people have dementia and the World Health Organisation predicts that numbers will nearly double every two decades, estimating 66 million people will have dementia in 2030 and more than 115 million in 2050.
Dementia is estimated to cost healthcare systems around the world £370 billion a year – about 1 per cent of the world’s GDP.
Alzheimer’s Research UK welcomed the new investment. The charity’s director of external affairs, Hilary Evans, said: “This represents another step forward in the fight to tackle what is our greatest health challenge.
“The treatments available offer scant relief and are simply not good enough. We need a therapy that acts to slow or stop disease in its tracks. If we could produce a treatment that delayed onset by five years, a third fewer people would experience the devastation of dementia.”
Jeremy Hughes, chief executive at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “David Cameron is committed to making dramatic progress towards a cure for dementia by 2025, so it’s encouraging to see him turning these words into action through continued national and global leadership.”
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