12/11/2013 11:17 EST | Updated 02/10/2014 05:59 EST

Britain's prime minister says cure or drug for dementia possible by 2025

LONDON - British Prime Minister David Cameron says he hopes to kick-start an international effort to find a cure or effective treatment for dementia by 2025.

At a one-day summit on dementia on Wednesday hosted by the U.K., Cameron declared that discovering a cure or treatment for dementia is "within our grasp."

The Group of Eight health and science ministers signed a declaration agreeing to identify "a cure or disease-modifying therapy for dementia" by 2025, among other goals, including increased funding and greater co-operation.

Globally, about 44 million people are estimated to have dementia, according to Alzheimer Disease International. That number is projected to jump to 76 million by 2030.

Several drugs lessen the symptoms of dementia but none improves the underlying disease. In the U.S., no new drug has been licensed for a decade.

Before the meeting, several British and American scientists called for G-8 countries to commit to investing at least 1 per cent of their dementia costs into research. In the U.S., that would mean quadrupling the current $500 million budget to $2 billion.

"I don't think we'll find the silver bullet, but it is possible we will get a signal that a drug may modify dementia in the next three to five years," said Dr. Ronald Petersen, chair of a U.S. advisory council on Alzheimer's and a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Petersen attended Wednesday's meeting and said it was possible dementia might one day be treated with a mixture of drugs, like AIDS or high blood pressure.

"The challenge is huge and we are a long way from a cure, but there is hope," Cameron said.

Still, numerous grand declarations to solve health problems have previously flopped. In 1997, U.S. President Bill Clinton promised to find a vaccine for AIDS within a decade. None have yet been discovered.