Bill Gates commits $100 million to help fight Alzheimer's

Interview Bill Gates commits $100 million for fund start-ups to fight Alzheimer’s

Microsoft's billionaire founder Bill Gates has pledged $50m (£38.2m) to a London-based fund seeking to tackle dementia.

Rather going through his usual philanthropic route, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates says this investment is a personal one. It's a miracle that people are living so much longer, but longer life expectancies alone are not enough.

The main aspiration of Gates is that he wants to bring a proper curing treatment for Alzheimer's, because the disease destroys patients' memory as well as mental processes and is yet not curative at all. Current drugs can do no more than ease some of the symptoms.

Gates was optimistic that with the right funding and innovation, better treatments could be discovered.

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In Nebraska, a new website is giving caregivers the help they need to take care of people with Alzheimer's. "I hope that in the next 10 years that we have some powerful drugs, but it's possible that won't be achieved".

Gates has not yet identified where he will donate the extra $50 million.

Speaking to Reuters, Gates said he wanted to help combat the rapidly rising numbers of Alzheimer's sufferers. Dementia affects around 50 million people globally, and is expected to develop in over 131 million more by 2050, says the non-profit group Alzheimer's Disease International. "It feels a lot like you're experiencing a gradual death of the person that you knew".

The five areas include: getting a better understanding of the underlying causes of the disease and its biology; detecting and diagnosing Alzheimer's earlier; developing more approaches to stopping the disease; making it easier for people to enroll in clinical trials; and using data more efficiently. He explained that all the individual data compiled by a pharmaceutical company or research lab should be available in a common form, so that groups of researchers can look for patterns and identify new pathways for treatment. He says the Gates Foundation might consider how to expand access in poorer countries when treatments are developed.

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