Sunak reveals focus on treating cancer and dementia with £100m AI fund

29 October 2023, 13:24

Rishi Sunak visit to Moorfields Eye Hospital
Rishi Sunak visit to Moorfields Eye Hospital. Picture: PA

The Prime Minister detailed how the spending would be used ahead of an AI safety summit in the UK.

A £100 million investment in artificial intelligence will be used to research new treatments for cancer and dementia, the Prime Minister has said.

Rishi Sunak said the cash injection would be used to help discover “treatments for previously incurable diseases”.

The Prime Minister detailed how the spending would be used ahead of the AI safety summit, where international leaders are expected to meet to discuss ground rules for preventing the technology from causing harm.

Mr Sunak said: “AI can help us solve some of the greatest social challenges of our time. AI could help find novel dementia treatments or develop vaccines for cancer.

“That’s why today we’re investing a further £100 million to accelerate the use of AI on the most transformational breakthroughs in treatments for previously incurable diseases.”

The AI life sciences accelerator mission is part of a wider set of proposals aimed at taking advantage of the UK’s strengths in life sciences across academia, medical research, industry and the NHS.

The £100 million is aimed at helping to kickstart this work, and to investigate how to tackle deadly or life-changing conditions like cancer and dementia.

Mr Sunak had trailed the announcement in his speech last Thursday ahead of the AI safety summit, which is due to take place at Second World War codebreaker headquarters Bletchley Park.

Duchess of Cornwall visits Bletchley Park
The summit will take place at Bletchley Park (Chris Radburn/PA)

In his speech, the Prime Minister pledged funding towards “transformational breakthroughs in treatments for previously incurable diseases”.

The summit, which will be held on Wednesday and Thursday, is expected to be attended by EU chief Ursula von der Leyen and US vice president Kamala Harris.

But there are worries that some world leaders will snub the gathering, as global political attention is fixed on the conflict in the Middle East.

Ahead of the meeting, Science Secretary Michelle Donelan said: “Safe, responsible AI will change the game for what it’s possible to do in healthcare, closing the gap between the discovery and application of innovative new therapies, diagnostic tools, and ways of working that will give clinicians more time with their patients.”

By Press Association

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