Government bid to find cure for dementia boosted by rise in volunteers


The Government's ambition to find a cure for dementia by 2025 has been boosted by a big rise in people volunteering to take part in ground-breaking research studies.

During the last year, almost 22,000 people have taken part in research studies to tackle the condition - a 60% rise - according to figures from the National Institute for Health Research.

The increased participation in 100 dementia research projects across the UK will boost scientists in their bid to find new treatments to prevent, treat and eventually cure the illness.

Research projects include testing whether antibiotics slow cognitive decline, investigating the role of the immune system in dementia, identifying genetic risk factors and improving end of life care for people with dementia.

Minister for life sciences George Freeman said: "Dementia is a devastating condition that can have a significant impact on the lives of those affected and their families.

"Volunteers are essential to our battle against the disease and I'm delighted that so many people - with and without dementia - are coming forward to participate in ground-breaking new trials.

"There is still a long way to go but with their help we hope to find a cure or disease modifying therapy by 2025. The race is on."

Dr Doug Brown, director of research and development at Alzheimer's Society, said: "We are delighted that more people affected by dementia are being given the opportunity to take part in vital research.

"Not only is it essential for us to make progress towards new treatments and better care, but it could also empower people to learn more about their condition and benefit from additional support."

Dementia affects 850,000 people in the UK and this figure is expected to rise to more than two million by 2051.

The boost in participation was in part triggered by the Prime Minister's Challenge on Dementia, launched in March 2012. David Cameron called on the public, charity and private sector to do more to improve diagnosis, care and research into the disease.

Following the success of this initiative, the Prime Minister launched the Dementia2020 Challenge that aims to make England the "best place in the world to undertake research into dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases".

The Challenge also included the aspiration to have 10% of all people with dementia participating in research by 2020. Nationally, 5.5% of people with dementia took part in research in 2014/15, up from 3.7% in 2012/13.

The fight against dementia has also been helped by the 100m dollar Dementia Discovery Fund announced in March by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. The fund - which brings together investment from the Government and a number of charity and private sector partners - is an innovative way of financing research into new dementia drugs and treatments.

In 2013/14, 13,583 people took part in dementia research. This increased to 21,791 in 2014/15.