The government has announced.an £800m funding boost for medical research to help create new treatments and care for patients.

The pot of money - the largest single allocation of government cash for early-stage medical research - will be spent over the next five years.

It comes from a £4bn fund for medical research announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review.

The cash will be spent on supporting projects aimed at advancing the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, dementia and heart disease.

The pot includes funding for four new biomedical research units specialising in dementia research.

The research will be carried out through NHS and university partnerships managed by the National Institute for Health Research.

Prime minister David Cameron, said: “This unprecedented investment into the development of innovative medicines and treatments will have a huge impact on the care and services patients receive and help develop the modern, world-class health service patients’ deserve.

“A strong competitive science and research base is a crucial part of securing sustainable economic growth and creating jobs of the future, and we have some of the best scientists and facilities in the world.

“This investment will help ensure we continue to be at the cutting edge.”

Health secretary Andrew Lansley said: “We need to give British scientists the means and tools to develop groundbreaking world class health research.

“That’s why, as part of our £4bn investment in research and development, we have committed £800m for translational research - developing exciting new science into tangible, effective treatments that can be used across the NHS.

“This will help deliver real improvements in patients’ chances of surviving and living a more independent, healthier and better quality of life.”

Sir John Bell, president of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said: “The NHS in England has become one of the best environments in the world for undertaking cutting edge translational research.

“This is creating real opportunities for improving the health of patients, as well as positioning the UK as a preferred site for clinical development by the pharmaceutical and biotech industries.”