Bill Gates announces major donation to advance the fight against Alzheimer's

Sergio Conner
November 13, 2017

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates announced Monday that he is investing $50 million to fund research into treatment for Alzheimer's disease.

Despite decades of scientific research, there is no treatment that can slow the progression of Alzheimer's.

While most of the major pharmaceutical companies continue to pursue the amyloid and tau pathways, Dementia Discovery Fund will complement their work by supporting start-ups as they explore less mainstream approaches to treating dementia.

People with dementia spend five times more annually on out-of-pocket health expenses than those who don't have Alzheimer's, and the disease accounts for direct American health care costs of $259 billion in 2017, with projected growth to $1.1 trillion in 2050, according to the Alzheimer's Association.

"It's a bad disease that devastates both those who have it and their loved ones", Gates wrote in his blog post.

Of the total sum, around half is set to be donated to the Dementia Discovery Fund, while the rest will go to other organisations, focusing on new approaches to Alzheimer's research.

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"It's a bad disease that devastates both those who have it and their loved ones", the philanthropist-businessman added. I know how terrible it is to watch people you love struggle as the disease robs them of their mental capacity, and there is nothing you can do about it.

Mr. Gates said in his blog post that while men in his family suffer from Alzheimer's, his personal connection to the disease is not the only reason for the investment.

"I know how very bad it is to watch people you love struggle as the disease robs them of their mental capacity, and there is nothing you can do about it", he wrote. "It feels a lot like you're experiencing a gradual death of the person that you knew".

The philanthropist, whose usual focus is on infectious diseases in poorer countries, said Alzheimer's caught his interest partly for personal reasons, and partly because it has so far proved such a tough nut to crack. Other trials are ongoing and expected to release results in coming years, but Gates says it makes sense to have other candidates ready to push into advanced testing in order to keep the pipeline robust.

He was realistic by adding that he hoped that within 10 years some strong drugs were available, but there is the possibility that will not be achieved.

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