We have more over 75s than ever before, but for those born this year, 54% will live to be 100. In order for us all to live healthier lives for longer we need to diagnose disease earlier, making the most of new technology and new medicines.
Today, in a new deal between government and the life sciences sector, we have announced a major study to collect a range of data from 5 million healthy volunteers. This mammoth undertaking will be the biggest study of its kind, using artificial intelligence and other new technologies to diagnose diseases earlier.
We all know someone who we love who has suffered the effects of a devastating disease. If we can detect illnesses like cancer, Alzheimer’s and heart disease before symptoms present, we can open doors to transform treatment and save lives. I am honoured to be leading the Accelerating Detection of Disease project which will bring together doctors, industry experts and leading charities including Cancer Research UK, the British Heart Foundation and Alzheimer’s Research UK.
It is this kind of revolutionary work which will help people get the right treatment before they get ill, and it is my ambition that this will give more of us, more years of healthy life.
By working together, industry, charities, Government and the NHS can tackle major healthcare challenges. The second Life Sciences Sector Deal announced today demonstrates another major step forward for the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy in the UK. With 240,000 skilled jobs and a £70 billion contribution to the UK economy, the Life Sciences Sector is vibrant, successful and diverse. The new Life Sciences Sector Deal includes input from digital, medical and biological technology companies, diagnostics experts and pharmaceutical companies.
Not only that, but it includes significant inward investment from the sector – over £1.3 billion – and shows a continued commitment to UK expertise and facilities. I am also pleased to see the ongoing global engagement with the agenda I laid out in my Life Sciences Industrial Strategy last year to cultivate the best environment for research and development in the UK.
In years gone by, the idea of eliminating smallpox, managing HIV or curing Hepatitis C seemed impossible and yet we are living in an age where the risks associated with these diseases have been either eliminated or greatly reduced. The programme announced today will set us on the path to new medical breakthroughs, innovative treatments, and longer lives, cutting down suffering in the future. The UK’s world leading life sciences experts are going further than ever before to help us live healthier, for longer.
Sir John Bell is a Life Sciences Champion and Regius Professor of Medicine at the University of Oxford.