A new “national mission” has been announced to tackle dementia in memory of the late Dame Barbara Windsor.
Boris Johnson said the government will commit an extra £95m in research funding, meeting a manifesto commitment to double funding for research into treatment to £160m by 2024.
The prime minister has issued an appeal for a “Babs’ army” of volunteers to take part in clinical trials on new preventative therapies.
Dame Barbara, who died in 2020, was best known for her roles as Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders and in the Carry On films.
She campaigned to raise awareness of the disease, with her husband Scott Mitchell revealing publicly in 2018 that she had been diagnosed four years earlier.
Mr Johnson said: “Dame Barbara Windsor was a British hero.
“I am delighted that we can now honour Dame Barbara in such a fitting way, launching a new national dementia mission in her name.
“We can work together to beat this disease, and honour an exceptional woman who campaigned tirelessly for change.”
Mr Mitchell said: “Barbara would be so proud that she has had this legacy which will hopefully mean that families in the future won’t have to go through the same heart-breaking experience that she and I had to endure.
“I can’t stop thinking about her looking down with pride.”
The mission will build on recent scientific advances, including genomics, artificial intelligence and the latest brain imaging technology, to test new treatments.
Alzheimer’s Research UK chief executive Hilary Evans told Sky News that the new funding is “really welcome”, adding: “At the moment there are no treatments that can stop or prevent this devastating disease and so that’s what we’re trying to do and we’re really pleased the government has come in behind our call to increase funding in dementia.”
She said that nearly one million people in the UK are living with dementia and that, with an aging population, this number would only increase.
“Historically, dementia research has been underfunded.
“It has often been something people have thought about as an inevitable part of aging, rather than a disease of the brain and something we can ultimately treat.
“It’s something that doesn’t just happen because you get old. It’s a physical process that happens within the brain.”