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13 November 2017, 07:27 | Melissa Porter
Bill Gates makes $100 million personal investment to fight Alzheimer's
In a blog post published t0day (Nov. 13), Gates announced that he'd be donating $50 million from his personal funds to the Dementia Discovery Fund, a venture-capital organization that works with both the United Kingdom government and drug companies to look for novel approaches to tackle the most common form of dementia.
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, speaks at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York City, U.S., September 20.
Despite decades of scientific research, there is no treatment that can slow the progression of Alzheimer's. Gates says he will follow the initial investment up with another $50 million for start-ups working in Alzheimer's research. I hope those approaches succeed, but we need to back scientists with different, less mainstream ideas in case they don't.
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.
There hasn't been a new drug approved to treat Alzheimer's in more than a decade, and Bill Gates is impatient for a cure.
"I'm making this investment on my own, not through the foundation", said Gates in a blog post which notes that the disease has afflicted a number of men in his own family. Gates will provide this $100 million himself.
Gates says that he is hoping to fund innovative ideas for treatments that aren't now being tested by the pharmaceutical industry. That's, in part, because it's personal.
"My personal experience has exposed me to how hopeless it feels when you or a loved one gets the disease", he writes.
Dementia, of which Alzheimer's is the most common form, affects close to 50 million people worldwide and is expected to affect more than 131 million by 2050, according to the non-profit campaign group Alzheimer's Disease International. The drugs approved to treat Alzheimer's are only capable of mitigating symptoms.
"A person with Alzheimer's or another form of dementia spends five times more every year out-of-pocket on health care than a senior without a neurodegenerative condition", he wrote.
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.
In a statement and video, the philanthropist highlights the urgency to make progress in our understanding of the causes of dementia, as numbers of people affected globally are on the rise.
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