A new collaboration to help search for a cure for Alzheimer's has been announced, which will see Drug Discovery Institutes set up at some of the UK's leading universities to work on new treatments.
More than 90 research scientists will be able to take advantage of state-of-the-art facilities at the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and University College London, which will be supported by more than £30 million in funding.
Alzheimer's Research UK observed attracting new expertise to help fight the disease is crucial if a pledge made by world health leaders last year to develop disease-modifying therapies for dementia by 2025. At present, there is only one dementia researcher for every six working on cancer, and it has been 12 years since the last treatment for dementia was licensed in the UK.
The charity stated that dementia currently affects more than 830,000 people in the UK and costs the country's economy £23 billion every year. While current treatments help with symptoms, they are only modestly effective and not suitable for all dementias.
Director of research at the organisation Dr Eric Karran said: "Academic research is a goldmine of knowledge about diseases such as Alzheimer's, and by tapping into the innovation, creativity, ideas and flexibility of scientists in these universities, we can re-energise the search for new dementia treatments."
He added that the new Drug Discovery Alliance will provide the necessary investment and infrastructure to maintain and grow a "healthy pipeline" of treatments that can be taken forward to clinical testing.
It will only be through boosting the number of promising leads to follow-up that researchers have the best chance of developing pioneering medicines that can improve the outlook for people with the disease.
The initiative was welcomed by health secretary Jeremy Hunt, who said: "Dementia can be a devastating condition and I am committed to doing all that we can to help the thousands of people who live with it. These world-leading Institutes will bring new hope to people with dementia by boosting innovation and increasing collaboration so that we can achieve our aim of finding a cure or disease-modifying therapy."