Bill Gates to donate $50 million to fund advancing Alzheimer's research

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Joining the fight against Alzheimer's, Microsoft founder Bill Gates on Monday announced a $50 million Dementia Discovery Investment Fund from his personal wealth to find a cure for the brain-wasting disease.

This includes better understanding about how Alzheimer's unfolds, need to detect and diagnose Alzheimer's earlier, more approaches to stopping the disease, need to make it easier to get people enrolled in clinical trials and need to use data better. The drugs approved to treat Alzheimer's are only capable of mitigating symptoms.

In 2015, an estimated 46.8 million people worldwide lived with dementia, a number set to double every 20 years reaching 74.7 million in 2030 and 131.5 million in 2050, according to World Alzheimer's Report 2015.

Gates said he's investing $50 million to the Dementia Discovery Fund- a fund that brings together non-profits, governments and private industry to identify treatments for dementia.

There are 47 million people living with some form of dementia globally; about 60% to 80% of those cases are Alzheimer's disease. Gates cites a family history with the disease.

"Unlike those with many chronic diseases, people with Alzheimer's incur long-term care costs as well as direct medical expenses".

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"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", he wrote. It feels a lot like you're experiencing a gradual death of the person that you knew.

"This is a frontier where we can dramatically improve human life", Mr. Gates wrote.

"The DDF team believes there is a significant opportunity to develop dementia drugs targeting biological pathways beyond the prevailing amyloid beta hypothesis and to apply insights from areas such as oncology and immunology to develop novel drugs targeting these other biological pathways that may drive different forms of dementia", said the fund. A more diverse drug pipeline increases our odds of discovering a breakthrough.

"In the first example of its kind in dementia, the DDF has now brought together funding from the private sector, charity and industry, and we're especially pleased to get so much interest from the USA in a British fund", said Kate Bingham, Managing Partner of SV.

Gates says that he is hoping to fund innovative ideas for treatments that aren't now being tested by the pharmaceutical industry.

"I hope that in the next 10 years that we have some powerful drugs", he added, "but it's possible that won't be achieved".

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