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Bill Gates announces major donation to advance the fight against Alzheimer's

13 November 2017

"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.

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 huge economic burden on the nation's health care system. "To address the growing burden of dementia, we must collaborate and invest in the early science to really enhance our understanding of the disease and its complex biology, and then apply this knowledge in a way that is targeted towards making treatments".

Mr. Gates said in his blog post that while men in his family suffer from Alzheimer's, his personal connection to the disease is not the only reason for the investment.

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Despite scientific research for decades, there is no treatment that slows the progression of the disease, as current drugs can not do any more than to ease some symptoms. Current drugs can do no more than ease some of the symptoms. He also plans to invest another $50 million in start-up ventures working in Alzheimer's research.

Gates is optimistic that with focused and well-funded innovation treatments can be found, even if it may take a decade to reach them.

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. That's, in part, because it's personal.

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

The goal of the month is to increase awareness and drive home the fact that as many as 16 million people could live with Alzheimer's disease by the year 2050.

Through advanced study of the brain, Gates said he's hopeful for a treatment that drastically reduces Alzheimer's. This would make it easier for researchers to look for patterns and identify new pathways for treatment, he said.

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Bill Gates announces major donation to advance the fight against Alzheimer's