The number of people suffering with a dementia is rising as better quality of life and improved medical care means people are living longer.

Some 850,000 Brits, 5.7 million Americans and 425,000 Australians are believed to be living with the condition, which cause brain deterioration.

Around 50 million people worldwide have a dementia – someone is diagnosed every three seconds – and the total number is expected to more than double to 131.5 million by 2050.

Experts from the University of Exeter warned last year that the amount of drug trials being done for the condition is ‘critically low’ and that research is lagging behind that being done into cancer.

While there are more than 1,000 currently active clinical trials trying to beat cancer globally, there are just 142 looking at Alzheimer’s disease, the main cause of dementia.

And only 29 of those have progressed past the first phase of testing – 40 times fewer than cancer trials at the same stage.

Scientists say researching how to slow down or treat the illness is now an ‘urgent priority’ because there have been no new treatments licensed since the 1990s.