April 20, 2018

Bill Gates investing $100 million to fight Alzheimer's

13 November 2017, 07:27 | Winifred Adams

Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates. REUTERS Rick Wilking

Bill Gates

Right now, there's no cure; physicians can only ease symptoms as the condition worsens.

Gates is dipping into his own pocket to back the DDF, keeping the investment separate from the $40 billion Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which is mainly devoted to diseases affecting the developing world such as malaria and polio.

The Microsoft co-founder announced November 13 he's personally donating $100 million toward fighting Alzheimer's disease.

"The first Alzheimer's treatments might not come to fruition for another decade or more, and they will be very expensive at first". I know how 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.

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

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"Gates has invested a great deal of time to better understand the full scope of the disease and how he can play a significant role in accelerating progress", the asociation said in a statement.

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.

In a blog post, Mr. Gates outlined his reasons for donating, saying that Alzheimer's and dementia greatly reduce quality of life, take an extreme emotional toll on families and put an enormous economic burden on the nation's health care system. Most drug trials to date have targeted amyloid and tau, two proteins that cause plaques and tangles in the brain. A more diverse approach, he believes, will increase the odds of finding one that works. He also tells that the disease is found in men in relation to women. There's about a 50/50 chance that anyone who lives beyond 80 years old will develop the disease, and each of these patients spends 500% more on personal health-care costs than those living without dementia.

Gates said, however, that with focused and well-funded innovation, he's "optimistic" treatments can be found, even if they might be more than a decade away.

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. For now, he said, "we probably should say 'treatment.' Any type of treatment would be a huge advance from where we are today". "The Alzheimer's Association commends Bill Gates for digging in and joining the cause".

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