UK chancellor George Osborne is set to announce a new £15-million dementia research fund in the Autumn Statement tomorrow.

Prime Minister David Cameron said the fund will be used to “help drive forward the search for new drugs to beat dementia” and that he hoped to attract “the private sector investment needed for this crucial work”, the Telegraph has reported.

Welcoming the move, Hilary Evans, Director of External Affairs at Alzheimer's Research UK, said it represents “another step forward in the fight to tackle what is our greatest health challenge and a devastating condition”.

Currently available treatments for patients “offer scant relief and are simply not good enough”, she said, noting “if we could produce a treatment that delayed onset by five years, a third fewer people would ever experience the devastation of dementia”.

Cameron has previously referred to dementia as “one of the greatest enemies of humanity”. Without improved treatments, the number of people aged over-60 living with Alzheimer’s and related conditions is expected to rocket to two million by 2050, while the World Health Organisation has forecast that more than 115 million people around the globe will suffer from the condition by this time, placing a huge drag on healthcare systems. The cost of dementia in the UK has already topped £26 billion a year.

Announcement of the new research fund comes a year after the UK used its G8 presidency to hold the first Dementia Summit, which saw G8 countries commit to findings a disease-modifying treatment by 2025.