The Government has pledged £375m for research into neurodegenerative diseases over the next five years.
The investment will support the search for new treatments for a range of conditions, including Alzheimer’s, Pick’s disease and Frontotemporal dementia, according to the Department of Health and Social Care.
The funding includes at least £50m to help find new therapies – and eventually a cure – for motor neurone disease (MND), a condition in which the brain and nerves progressively degenerate.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the £50m tranche in the Sunday Express, writing that it will “transform the fight” against MND, which he says “kills six people” in the UK every day.
His commitment came after a drive by the paper, along with a coalition of patients, campaigners and charities, to call for more investment in targeted MND research.
There is currently no cure for MND and only one treatment drug is licensed in the UK, which slows the disease’s progression and extends a patient’s life by a few months.
The Prime Minister said the funding would be used to “turbo-charge” the search for new therapies and drugs which could potentially improve the life chances of those who are diagnosed with the “cruel and debilitating” illness.
Johnson added: “Together we can turn motor neurone disease from a terminal illness to a treatable condition, giving new hope to anyone diagnosed and to all their loved ones who care for them.”
A new Government unit will be set up to attract more innovative research applications for the funding, according to the Department of Health and Social Care.
Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid said: “Neurodegenerative conditions like MND can have a devastating impact on people’s lives and I’m committed to ensuring the Government does everything we can to fight these diseases and support those affected.”
He added the Government has already invested millions in MND research, including more than £7m to support clinical trials which have led to progress in understanding the disease.
The Government hopes that such advances could unlock new treatments for patients using gene therapy.
Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “The UK is home to some of the most transformative and innovative medical research in the world, and the availability of this research funding, alongside the work of our strong life science and pharmaceuticals sector, will make the most of that research to help those living with motor neurone disease.”
Sally Light, chief executive of the MND Association, said: “This investment is going to drive MND research forward towards treatments and cures. This is the hope we have been longing for.”