Campaigners hail Government pledge for new £150m dementia research institute

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Alzheimer's campaigners have welcomed Government plans for a new £150 million dementia research institute.

The new Institute - expected to be announced in Wednesday's Autumn Statement  - will aim to develop new diagnostic tests for dementia and find ways to stop the progression of diseases that cause the condition, such as Alzheimer's.

The initiative, which will cover the whole of the country with a main hub at a UK university, is expected to be in place by 2020, said Alzheimer's Research UK.

Prime Minister David Cameron has described dementia, which is estimated to affect 850,000 people in the UK, as "one of the greatest enemies of humanity".

Three years ago, he launched the Prime Minister's Challenge on Dementia, pledging to make the UK a world leader in care and research. 

Since 2010, investment in research has doubled, hundreds of thousands of NHS and care staff have received specialist training and more than one million people have become "dementia friends", he said.

Plans to build an international dementia institute in the UK within five years were announced under the coalition Government in February, and further details are expected to be revealed when Chancellor George Osborne delivers his Autumn Statement and Spending Review to MPs in the House of Commons.

Mr Cameron told the Daily Telegraph: "For far too long this terrible condition has been ignored, downplayed or mistaken as a part of the ageing process.

"This institute is another great step - and will allow us to draw together cutting edge research tools and expertise to defeat this disease once and for all."

Hilary Evans, chief executive of Alzheimer's Research UK, said: "This important announcement represents a strong commitment to dementia research, and Alzheimer's Research UK welcomes this plan. 

"A new dementia research institute will help provide much-needed infrastructure, and its UK-wide focus will be vital for bringing together research efforts across the country.

"It's important that the centre should be about more than bricks and mortar - this initiative has the potential to encourage greater collaboration and provide real leadership and focus.

"It will be crucial for the new Institute to work in tandem with existing initiatives, such as Alzheimer's Research UK's Drug Discovery Alliance, if we are to make faster progress towards new treatments for dementia that are so desperately needed."

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive at Alzheimer's Society, said: "This significant investment in the UK's first dementia research institute is great news. It will help accelerate progress towards much-needed treatments and innovations in care practices.

"Alzheimer's Society has committed at least £100 million to dementia research over the next decade.

"The opportunity to make life-changing discoveries is significant and it is vital the institute not only drives forward treatment development but also has a major focus on improving the care that people receive now and in the future."