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UK government to launch national mission to tackle dementia

One million people are predicted to be living with dementia by 2025

Dementia

The UK Government will launch a new ‘national dementia mission’ in honour of Dame Barbara Windsor which includes a recommitment to doubling dementia research funding to £160m a year by 2024, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced.

An additional £95m in ring-fenced funding will support the national mission, boosting the number of clinical trials and innovative research projects.

The mission will be driven by a new taskforce – similar to the one that delivered COVID-19 vaccines – which will work in tandem with industry, the NHS, academia and families living with dementia.

A call has also been issued for volunteers with or without a family history of dementia to come forward and sign up for clinical trials for preventative therapies, nicknamed ‘Babs’ Army’.

By 2025, around one million people are predicted to be living with dementia, increasing to 1.6 million by 2040. Dementia can affect the brain years before people show any symptoms, underscoring the need for treatments to be tested on people far earlier.

Responding to the announcement, Mark MacDonald, associate director of advocacy and system change at Alzheimer’s Society said: “The stark reality is that dementia is the biggest killer in the UK and as there are no treatments yet to stop or slow it down. The Government’s promise to commit an additional £95m investment into dementia research and encourage more people to take part in clinical trials, is crucial to accelerate progress into game-changing therapies that will transform thousands of lives.”

The new national mission is set to build on recent advances in biological and data sciences, including genomics, artificial intelligence and the latest brain imaging technology, in order to test new treatments.

Researchers will look for signals of risk factors, which could help those who are at risk from developing dementia to understand how they might be able to slow or prevent the disease in the future.

Scott Mitchell, ambassador at Alzheimer’s Research UK and Dame Barbara Windsor’s husband, said: “As a proud Ambassador of Alzheimer’s Research UK, today’s news has been an emotional one. Together, we have long campaigned for an increase in research funding and the fact today’s commitment has been made in Barbara’s name fills me with immense pride.

“I really do implore everyone to join this mission to end the heartbreak dementia causes. Research is vital if we’re to overcome the diseases that cause dementia, and by coming together, we will get there sooner; for people like Barbara and the many millions lost to or living with this devastating condition.”

Article by
Emily Kimber

17th August 2022

From: Research, Healthcare

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