Recent Report: Bill Gates on a mission to 'Cure Alzheimer'

Recent Report: Bill Gates on a mission to 'Cure Alzheimer'

Recent Report: Bill Gates on a mission to 'Cure Alzheimer'

"I believe we are at a turning point in Alzheimer's research and development, which the Dementia Discovery Fund is playing an important role in by exploring new approaches to treat the disease", said Gates, the billionaire founder of Microsoft who has promised to give away more than half of his wealth to charity.

Even though there has been decades of scientific research on Alzheimer's, there's no treatment to slow the progression of the disease. Gates says he will follow the initial investment up with another $50 million for start-ups working in Alzheimer's research.

"We have much better tools, we have more scientists", he explained.

The investment is a private one and not through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the philanthropic organisation through which several health investments have previously been made.

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

Humans have a almost 50 percent chance of developing Alzheimer's if they live into their 80s, and scientists have yet to find the cause of the disease, Gates wrote on his blog.

Gates is optimistic that with focused and well-funded innovation treatments can be found, even if it may take a decade to reach them. Earlier this year biotech investment guru Neil Woodford pledged £15 million (around $19 million) to the fund, becoming its first backer beyond its core of Big Pharma founders (Biogen, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Takeda and Otsuka-subsidiary Astex), ARUK and the United Kingdom government.

"Some of the men in my family have suffered from Alzheimer's, but I wouldn't say that's the sole reason" (for this investment)", he added.

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"My personal experience has exposed me to how hopeless it feels when you or a loved one gets the disease", he writes.

Through talking to experts in the field over the past year, Gates said he had identified five areas of need: Understanding better how Alzheimer's unfolds, detecting and diagnosing it earlier, pursuing multiple approaches to trying to halt the disease, making it easier for people to take part in clinical trials of potential new medicines, and using data better.

As people continue to live longer, Gates says on his blog, the more at risk they are for developing diseases like Parkinson's or arthritis. Existing drugs can only ease some of the symptoms. "It's like a gradual death in terms of the person that you knew".

The economic burden is estimated at $259 billion annually, according to the Alzheimer's Association, and more than 15 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.

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