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'Hope for a better future' as Government dementia research funding hits highest level ever

15-Sep-16
Article By: Charley Walker, News Editor

A new £816m investment, the largest ever in NHS and health research, will see dementia research funding rise to more than £45m from 1 April 2017.

Funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has been awarded to 20 leading NHS clinicians and university partnerships across England for the next five years.

The local partnerships, known as NIHR biomedical centres, have a wide range of research interests including dementia, mental health, deafness and hearing.

Having previously stated his desire for the UK to become the most dementia-friendly country, health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “The UK has so often led the world in health research. Today, we are making sure the UK stays ahead of the game by laying the foundations for a new age of personalised medicine.

“We are supporting the great minds of the NHS to push the frontiers of medical science so that patients in this country continue to benefit from the very latest treatments and the highest standards of care.”

The record funding investment will ensure the UK retains its reputation and tradition as a world leader in pioneering medical research and breakthroughs.

Each biomedical centre will be at the forefront of the development of ground-breaking treatments, diagnostics, prevention and care for diseases such as dementia and cancer. These are areas in which previous funding has led to a number of breakthroughs, including various cancer treatments and the detection of the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

Of the successful applicants, six partnerships have a specific research focus on dementia and mental health. NHS Foundation Trusts and universities in Cambridge, Oxford, Newcastle and London are among those to have received portions of the £816m investment towards their research which includes dementia.

This year has seen a significant rise in dementia awareness, the most common type being Alzheimer’s disease. With an ageing nation, Alzheimer’s Research UK warned in March that the condition poses a “looming national health crisis” yet there have been no new treatments for the disease in over ten years.

As a result, the proposed increase in funding for dementia research is a “welcome additional focus from the National Institute for Health Research,” according to Doug Brown, director of research and development at Alzheimer’s Society.

Mr Brown said: “This boost in funding for dementia research will allow vital collaboration between researchers and clinicians, helping to drive innovation in dementia health and social care.

“Today’s commitment increases the total pledge we’ve seen from UK government and charities to support research into dementia, including our own commitment to spend £150m over the next decade. Together, these investments offer hope for a better future for the one million people expected to be living with dementia in the UK by 2021.”

Funding for dementia research will be further increased as it is expected that for every £1 the Department of Health invests in biomedical centres’ research and activity, the partnerships will receive £6 from public funders.

Professor Chris Witty, chief scientific advisor, said of the new investment’s importance to medical advances: “The future of NHS care depends on the science we do now. This new funding will enable clinical researchers to keep pushing for medical breakthroughs. The NIHR biomedical research centres offer huge potential benefits for patients across the country.”

The funding, which was announced on 12 September, will be introduced from 1 April next year for five years.

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