The UK government is bringing together life sciences leaders to promote the UK’s dementia research facilities, while also seeking to nurture global collaboration against the disease.

As part of prime minister David Cameron’s ‘Challenge on Dementia’ programme, which was launched last year, this showcase event will highlight what the UK can offer to the industry, as it searches for new ways to tackle the condition.

Attendees at the event, which is being held in Westminster this evening, will discuss the challenges of dementia research, the barriers faced by the industry and how the UK can respond.

More than 150 global leaders from research, charities, biotech and pharma will be there to discover more about the UK’s research universities, and the potential power of the NHS’ patient data – something Cameron is looking to open up to the industry.

In a statement, the Department of Health said delegates will learn how the UK’s clinical research resources are well-placed to help bring about new discoveries – from understanding the fundamental biological processes underlying dementia, through to translating these into the clinical setting and on to the development of potential new therapies.

Dr Eric Karran, director of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “The UK boasts some of the world's leading dementia research scientists, and we need to match that brain power with the right environment for research to thrive. As the number of people in the UK living with dementia spirals towards a million, charities, government and industry must join forces to ensure that research successes are translated into patient benefits. This event provides a platform to demonstrate the unique research opportunities provided by the NHS, our leading academic centres and flexible funding. A thriving research sector is our only hope for defeating dementia.”

The scale of the challenge created by dementia is large and growing: in England today 670,000 people are living with dementia – a number expected to increase with one in three people set to develop dementia in the future. And the economic cost of dementia is £19 billion a year – more than cancer, heart disease and stroke combined, according to the DH.

Dr Michael Krams, head of neurology at Janssen R&D, said: “This is a great opportunity to build a consensus towards collaborative working with academia, industry and government. However, we acknowledge there remains much work to do to better understand the biology of dementia and provide sufferers with treatment and prevention."