Dr Dennis Gillings, the departing chairmain of the World Dementia Council said there are now two potential breakthrough treatments on the brink of being a success.
Dr Gillings, who was appointed by Prime Minister David Cameron to create the council in 2013, believes huge steps have been taken in understanding the disease and he believes it should be looked at in the same way as cancer.
He told The Telegraph: ‘The original goal was disease modification by 2025.
‘I feel a lot more optimistic now: I wouldn’t be surprised if we get there by 2020 or 2021.
‘We may need more customised diagnosis. We used to just think cancer now we know there are many different types, with different treatments. We need to approach dementia similarly.’
The potential treatments on the horizon are said to be able to remove the plaques in the brain which are affected by dementia and unscramble neutral tangles which characterise the disease.
Although Britain has created a £150million Dementia Research Institute, breakthroughs are more likely to be made in the U.S.
There are also fears over whether such a treatment could be properly funded in the UK, as early drugs are likely to be expensive.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ‘While we are seeing progress in drug development and greater understanding of this disease, there can be no cause for complacency and I look to the World Dementia Council to use their expertise and global reach to drive governments, industry and regulators to further action.’
Yesterday, the Welsh Government released guidance urging people to undertake six simple steps believed to reduce the risk of developing the disease by up to 60 per cent.
It called on the public to be more active, regularly check their health, avoid smoking, drink sensible amounts of alcohol, watch their weight and try new things to stay mentally alert.
The initiative was launched after a new survey revealed that 48 per cent of people believe nothing can be done to stave off the the risk of developing the disease.
But health chiefs say evidence shows that maintaining a healthier lifestyle can reduce the risk.