£22m funding to battle dementia 'crisis'
Published on 21 December 2012 11:30 AM
Britain faces a crisis unless more is done to battle dementia, according to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
During a visit to Eli Lilly's UK dementia research centre, he highlighted how the country's ageing population means the disease is becoming a major concern.
Mr Hunt used his trip to the centre, which houses scientists working towards ways to prevent and treat the disease, to announce that the Government is investing £22 million in 21 studies related to dementia.
The Health Secretary explained that the additional funding is being put in place to prepare for the population getting older and to keep Britain at the forefront of medical innovation.
Britain's ageing population to become most important political topic - Hunt
Over the next 10 years Mr Hunt believes Britain's ageing population and the issues arising from that will become the most important topic of political debate.
He drew attention to the fact dementia already affects one in three families and said it is 'something which is becoming a crisis'.
The National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) has awarded the new funding, which has been designed to provide support across the board for dementia, covering research for improved care, cure and prevention.
Cash will also be put into studies examining the root causes of the disease, which can include symptoms such as loss of memory, mood changes and problems with communication and reasoning.
Vital that dementia is not ignored
Due to the difficulties of studying the human brain, Mr Hunt said some pharmaceutical firms tend to avoid dementia research, but that it is vital the disease is not ignored.
This is because over the next few years around a million people will have the disease, he said.
After a some high-profile set-backs, Mr Hunt confirmed that the quest to find better treatments must continue, with Lilly being a shining example of success to prove 'it's not all doom and gloom'.
'I think there is a real prospect of a treatment that could could have a significant impact on slowing the spread of Alzheimer's within the next decade,' he added.
Mr Hunt's announcements regarding dementia came a week after he announced new cancer screening programmes to help Britain achieve the lowest cancer mortality rates in Europe.
Copyright Press Association 2012