Headlines: November 4th, 2008

Politicians are being warned that their jobs – as well as their health – may be at risk unless they invest more money in research into dementia. The warning has come from the Alzheimer’s Research Trust which has published a YouGov survey showing that four out of five older people believe investment in research should be increased.

The survey of more than 2,000 people aged over 55 found that 80 per cent wanted the Government to review its research priorities. The same proportion of respondents also felt more funding for dementia research would benefit the economy in the long run by reducing the costs to society of the disease.

Rebecca Wood, the chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, said, “Grey voters are twice as likely to vote as young people. Politicians’ jobs, as well as their health, may be at risk if they continue to prevaricate on dementia research.”

Professor Simon Lovestone, who chairs the Trust’s Scientific Advisory Board, estimated that dementia would cost the UK 35 billion pounds a year within 20 years. “Continuing the investment in dementia research is important if we are to find more effective treatments,” he said and added, “If new research results in a five year delay in Alzheimer’s progression, we can halve the number of people with the disease.”

The charity says 700,000 people in Britain live with dementia and that is expected to double within a generation. It also estimates that half of all people over 55 know a close friend or family member with dementia, and one in three over-65s will die with a form of dementia. At the moment only three per cent of the Government’s medical research budget is invested in dementia. Ms Wood said, “There is a growing recognition that the human and economic cost of dementia is unsustainable unless we invest in research now to find new preventions, treatments and cures.”