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Warning over rates of Alzheimer's

Dementia rates in Northern Ireland are set to double within a generation, the Alzheimer's Research Trust claims.

Around 16,000 people in the province currently suffer from the condition, but that number is expected to reach 20,500 by 2017, and 47,000 by 2051.

The new figures have been released amid the launch of a new partnership between the ART Network, Queen's University and the University of Ulster.

The move will see 15 UK scientists work together and compare treatment techniques over an initial four-and-a-half year period.

Lady Sylvia Hermon, the Ulster Unionist North Down MP whose husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2002, said: "It's such a cruel disease. It steals a person's memory, it steals the personality and human dignity.

"We owe sufferers and carers the very best research to not only deal with its symptoms but find a cure to prevent it in the first place."

Dr Christian Holscher, senior lecturer in neurosciences at the University of Ulster, added: "Considering the changing age profile of the population and the important position of Alzheimer's disease within healthcare policy, this network offers an excellent strategic position to amalgamate research, attract new funding and develop a cluster of excellence in the very important area of Alzheimer's research."

Alzheimer's Research Trust

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"Because it takes away the ability to communicate and be communicated with. The persons loss of function is devastating and the prognosis is a downward spiral of disablement leading to inevitable death." - Eugene Lynch, N. Ireland