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Large increase in dementia research volunteers

The National Institute for Health Research has revealed that there was a 60% increase in volunteers – with and without dementia – signing up to take part in medical research this year, compared to last year.

In total, nearly 22,000 people are taking part in over 100 studies into Alzheimer’s and dementia, with many participants saying that volunteering provides hope for the future and helps them feel like they are doing something constructive and worthwhile.

Dementia specialist Dr Iracema Leroi, from the University of Manchester, said research was needed to help improve care, take steps for prevention and eventually, provide a cure.

Dr Doug Brown, of the Alzheimer's Society, said he was delighted that an increased number of people were taking part: "Not only is it essential for us to make progress towards new treatments and better care, but it could also empower people to learn more about their condition and benefit from additional support."

The increase in volunteers has meant that 5.5% of people with dementia now take part in clinical trials, and the government has pledged to increase this to 10% by 2020. Life sciences minister George Freeman said: "Volunteers are essential to our battle against the disease and I'm delighted that so many people, with and without dementia, are coming forward to participate in ground-breaking new trials. There is still a long way to go, but with their help we hope to find a cure or disease-modifying therapy by 2025. The race is on."

Fiona Lowry, CEO of the Good Care Group, supported the initiative: “It is fantastic to see the government investing in dementia and Alzheimer’s research, as well as huge numbers of volunteers coming together to help improve care. Our carers receive extensive and ongoing training on utilising the latest research, to ensure the people we care for are always benefiting from the most recent scientific understanding of their medical condition.”