Dementia action plan announced

  • 8th April 2024

Plans to tackle dementia and neurodegeneration are gathering pace, with a recent government round table event leading to a number of key appointments which will help drive research and treatment.

Dementia and neurodegeneration were identified as one of the key healthcare missions in the 2021 Life Sciences Vision.

Dementia is currently the leading cause of death in England and one in two people will be directly affected by it – either they will care for someone with the condition, develop it themselves, or both.

It also has a high social cost, with around £34.7bn a year currently spent on healthcare, social care, and informal care.

And annual costs are predicted to rise to over £94bn by 2040.

In August 2022, the Prime Minister launched the Dame Barbara Windsor Dementia Mission, along with £95m of funding.

The mission is part of the wider government commitment to double dementia research funding to £160m a year by 2024/25.

The mission also aims to speed up the development of new treatments for dementia and neurodegenerative conditions.

Following this announcement, in March 2023, the Government  appointed two co-chairs for the mission, Hilary Evans, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK; and Nadeem Sarwar, co-founder and head of the transformational prevention unit at Novo Nordisk.

The mission will work across the sector, with industry, academia, the NHS, and other UK and global initiatives to develop innovations in biomarkers, data, and digital sciences, and increasing the number and speed of clinical trials in dementia.

Less than six months later, in July 2023, Innovate UK launched an SBRI Innovation Competition, supported by £6m of government funding to accelerate innovations in dementia biomarker detection to transform clinical trials and precision therapies.

These technologies can be used as clinical tools to enable the biomarker guided development of transformative dementia therapies.

A further £20m of additional funding was announced in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement in November last year for the launch of a Clinical Trials Delivery Accelerator (CTDA) focused on dementia.

This will be delivered by the Dame Barbara Windsor Dementia Mission and the Medical Research Council (MRC), tying in with the work of the NIHR Dementia Translational Research Collaboration’s Trial Network and other key initiatives.

The Dementia Trials Accelerator aims to embed more innovation in how clinical trials are designed and delivered to increase the speed and quality, while driving down the cost of large-scale trials.

And earlier this month, a round table was held at Downing Street, where charities, academics, investors, business leaders, and people with lived experience came together to further accelerate efforts to tackle this devastating illness and to thank all those involved in supporting dementia research, including charities right across the UK.

At the event the Government made a series of announcements including:

  • The appointment of Scott Mitchell as the People’s Champion for the Dementia Mission
  • The appointment of Ruth McKernan as chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board for the Neurodegeneration Initiative
  • The appointment of the Medicines Discovery Catapult as the delivery partner for the establishment of the Neurodegeneration Initiative
  • The award of a share of £6m funding to 10 projects through Innovate UK’s Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) dementia biomarker tools competition

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