In a personal battle, Bill Gates gives $100 million to fight Alzheimer’s disease

Ex-Microsoft CEO and the second richest person in the world, Bill Gates, has announced his intention to invest $100 million in research designed to find a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease.

The degenerative brain disease affects up to 50% of those over the age of 80, and Gates has a personal interest, as men in his family have a history of the disease.

“I know how awful 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. It feels a lot like you’re experiencing a gradual death of the person that you knew,” Gates wrote in his blog.

“This is something I know a lot about because men in my family have suffered from Alzheimer’s.”

Gates is allocating the money, which is out of his pocket and not from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in two sums – $50 million to the  Dementia Discovery Fund tasked with exploring less mainstream approaches to treating dementia, and $50 million later for start-up efforts to bring products to market affordably.

While billions have already been spent on research which has so far failed to find a cure or even fully understand the disease, which affects 5 million Americans, in a tweet Gates said “I believe that we can alter the course of Alzheimer’s. That’s why I’m investing in the Dementia Discovery Fund.”

Bill Gates has some support for his approach.

“The announcement that Bill Gates is joining this fight has the potential to significantly change that paradigm,” said George Vradenburg, co-founder of the advocacy group UsAgainstAlzheimer’s. “The battle to find a cure for Alzheimer’s today lacks funding, urgency, collaboration and entrepreneurial approaches.”

“With all of the new tools and theories in development, I believe we are at a turning point in Alzheimer’s R&D,” Gates said, referring to research and development. “As a first step, I’ve invested $50 million in the Dementia Discovery Fund — a private fund working to diversify the clinical pipeline and identify new targets for treatment.”

“A more diverse drug pipeline increases our odds of discovering a breakthrough. We need to better understand how Alzheimer’s unfolds. If we’re going to make progress, we need a better grasp on its underlying causes and biology,” he noted. “I want to support the brilliant minds doing this work.”

“I hope those approaches succeed, but we need to back scientists with different, less mainstream ideas in case they don’t,” Gates wrote.

Source: NBC News

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