Bill Gates invests $50 million to fight Alzheimer's

Former President Obama Speaks At The Gates Foundation Inaugural Goalkeepers Event

Bill Gates wants to help find a cure for Alzheimer's disease.

The Microsoft co-founder said the donation to the Dementia Discovery Fund is personal and not through his charitable foundation.

Mr Gates said the first treatments for the disease might not be feasible for a decade or more and would initially be expensive.

While there are now treatments available for certain symptoms of Alzheimer's, there's no overall cure for the disease. "The Alzheimer's Association commends Bill Gates for digging in and joining the cause". Drugs such as Aricept, known also as donezepil, can reduce symptoms for a time but they do not slow the worsening of the disease. "So it's very hard to hazard a guess". After spending a year speaking with experts, the Microsoft co-founder says he is hoping to see progress in five key areas: Understanding how Alzheimer's unfolds, earlier detection methods, more approaches to stopping the disease, easier enrollment in clinical trials, and using data better.

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. He plans to invest at least another $50 million into other startups that are working on "less mainstream" approaches, but these have not yet been identified.

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. People should be able to enjoy their later years-and we need a breakthrough in Alzheimer's to fulfill that.

"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". Gates cites a family history with the disease. "It feels a lot like you're experiencing a gradual death of the person that you knew", he wrote.

Asked how long he believes it will take to develop an effective treatment, Gates told Reuters: "It'll take probably 10 years before new theories are tried enough times to give them a high chance of success".

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