Defeating dementia: progress and challenges on the road to 2025

Uk Dri Basic Research Focus

Today, Wednesday 5 December, we joined a historic summit held in London to find solutions to end the dementia crisis.

Hosted by the World Dementia Council, key ministerial leaders including David Cameron (Former UK Prime Minister), Matt Hancock (UK’s Secretary of State for Health and Social Care) and Kenji Suwazono (Japan’s Assistant Minister for Health and Welfare) joined the meeting. Prof Bart De Strooper, UK DRI Director, contributed to a session on the funding and incentives required to continue making progress.

The meeting marks five years since the original 2013 summit. David Cameron said he now saw a “light at the end of a very long tunnel” but outlined key areas which leaders need to now tackle to improve the lives of people affected by dementia. These included increased awareness and better quality care, as well as more and better funded research into cure and prevention. 

He added: “Why is it so important to bring world leaders together on this issue? Because this is a great global challenge of our time. No individual, organisation or country is going to be able to solve it alone. It doesn’t affect one country or some countries; it affects us all. It is too big and too complex to tackle without each other. And it will grow and grow if we don’t do more, and do so now.   

“Five years ago, I was daunted when I explained the scale of the challenge. But now, I feel a deep sense of confidence. Because there is light at the end of a very long tunnel. We are going in the right direction. And if we keep up the pressure, take all the steps we’ve said we would, there’s no reason the diseases that cause dementia cannot be defeated.”

Big data can rapidly accelerate dementia research – not just biomedical research, but care research as well. David Cameron, Former UK Prime Minister

We've certainly moved forwards in recent years: the investment to create the UK DRI is a fantastic start. But the job isn't done - we still have a long way to go to fund the huge challenge of dementia so we can fuel innovative research to find treatments.

We will defeat dementia if we drive collective action, globally. Today's summit meeting of the global dementia community is encouraging and we must continue to work together, share together and influence together. Let's all keep up the pressure in the fight against dementia. Prof Bart De Strooper, UK DRI Director

Marty Reiswig, who has personal experience of dementia, said: “Visiting my dad is a wrenching, emotionally draining experience. Alzheimer’s has stripped away virtually all of who he was. That’s hard enough on its own. But every time I look at him, I know there is a fifty-fifty chance I’m looking into my own future. And if it’s my future, then it could be my daughter’s future. It could be my son’s future. I don’t want my children to watch me deteriorate. I don’t want them to go through what I’m going through with my dad.

That’s where you come in. Researchers. Drug developers. Elected officials. Leaders and influencers. We need you. We need you. Wield your influence with urgency. Slice through the red tape. Plow through every obstacle. Fight forward daily. Our time is running out. Together, we can save the world from Alzheimer’s. Marty Reiswig, DIAN study participant

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