The UK Government is providing £150m in funding to the country’s first Dementia Research Institute to strengthen development of treatments for the disease.

Led by the Medical Research Council (MRC), the new institute will bring together world-leading experts, universities and organisations to drive research and innovation in tackling the disease.

In the UK, dementia affects an estimated 850,000 people, which is expected to double in the next 20 years.

The institute will have a central UK hub, with links to universities across the country. It will build on the centres of excellence in dementia already operating across the UK.

"It will help provide much-needed infrastructure, and its UK-wide focus will be vital for bringing together research efforts across the country."

In 2016, MRC will open a competitive process asking universities to come forward to host the institute itself and will lead the search for a director to head it.

Alzheimer’s Research UK chief executive Hilary Evans said: "This important announcement represents a strong commitment to dementia research, and Alzheimer’s Research UK welcomes this plan.

"A new Dementia Research Institute will help provide much-needed infrastructure, and its UK-wide focus will be vital for bringing together research efforts across the country.

"It’s important that the centre should be about more than bricks and mortar; this initiative has the potential to encourage greater collaboration and provide real leadership and focus.

"It will be crucial for the new institute to work in tandem with existing initiatives, such as Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Drug Discovery Alliance, if we are to make faster progress towards new treatments for dementia that are so desperately needed."

Once established, the institute will accelerate the pace of discovery research to boost drug development, attract new partnerships with the biopharmaceutical sector to develop new treatments and ways of diagnosing dementia.

It will also help develop and promote strategies for interventions that prevent the development or progression of dementia.