Press release

Pioneering dementia research projects receive £22 million government boost

Twenty one pioneering research projects to boost dementia diagnosis rates and trial ground breaking treatments have been selected to receive a share of £22million of Government funding, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced today.

Visiting pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly’s UK dementia research centre, the Health Secretary emphasised the crucial role of medical research in making breakthroughs in the prevention and treatment of dementia, whilst ensuring that research can help people with dementia live well with the condition today.

The funding was awarded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) and was designed to cover all areas of scientific activity relevant to dementia, across the fields of care, cure and cause, including prevention.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:

“The UK has a firm ambition to become a world leader in dementia research. It is home to some of the world’s best dementia researchers and specialist research facilities, and this Government is committed to supporting them.

“To make a real difference to research, Government must respond to the barriers the industry faces. It is vital that we can translate the excellent work happening in our laboratories across the country into treatments that can help people live well with dementia today, whilst ultimately working towards finding a cure.”

More than 670,000 people in England are currently diagnosed with the dementia, and this figure is set to double in the next 30 years, creating one of the biggest challenges faced by the UK in recent times.

Alzheimer’s Society Chief Executive Jeremy Hughes said:

“Dementia is the greatest health and social care challenge of our time and defeating it needs to be a priority for society. As it stands, there are currently more clinical trials into hayfever than there are into some of the most common forms of dementia.

One in three people over the age of 65 will develop dementia. We need an all out fightback, the likes of which we have seen against cancer over the last 50 years. This funding will give hope to the 800,000 people living with dementia and boost the efforts Alzheimer’s Society is already making to find a cure for the condition.”

Some of the projects awarded funding today include:

Trialling the use of the popular blood pressure drug Losartan to complement current treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease. The trial will examine whether the drug improves blood flow to the brain and whether this can alter the chemical pathways that cause brain cell damage, brain shrinkage and memory problems.

The UK’s first ever trial to measure how much longer people with dementia can live safely and independently in their own homes, when they are provided with a specialised telecare technology package including motion sensors, GPS trackers, and personal alarms.

A trial to speed up and improve up diagnosis rates for dementia with Lewy Bodies, which accounts for up to 20 per cent of all cases, yet only one in three are actually diagnosed. The trial aims to produce a comprehensive toolkit for GPs to make spotting the signs of the disease easier and improve diagnosis rates.

The new research funding follows a dementia research showcase hosted by the Department of Health in October, where over 150 global leaders from the pharmaceutical and biotech industry had the opportunity come together to discuss next steps for driving forward developments in dementia research, with the aim of creating new partnerships and promoting different research approaches in the UK.

Alzheimer’s Research UK Director of Research Dr Eric Karran said:

 ”This is a significant boost for dementia research and we are pleased to see a wide range of projects winning support. UK research has the ability to deliver fundamental changes for people living with dementia now or at risk in future, through improved diagnosis, and, ultimately, better treatments that delay or slow down disease progression.

 ”As numbers living with dementia spiral towards one million, research is our only hope of an answer and it is encouraging that this funding call prompted a strong response from the field. To build on this momentum, we need to see more targeted investment in the future.”

 ”This new funding announcement rounds off an important year of progress in dementia, with the Prime Minister’s Challenge inspiring action on all fronts to improve our response to this crisis”

Last month the Government published its first Progress Report on the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia, which was launched in March 2012. Some of the key achievements include the launch of Dementia Friends, a brand new scheme to raise public awareness of the needs of people with dementia, and a new £50 million fund to create specially adapted wards and care home spaces to improve the experience of people with dementia.

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