Bill Gates pledges $100M to fight Alzheimer's

Gates streams $50m into Britain's Dementia Discovery Fund

Bill Gates, renowned Silicon Valley billionaire and philanthropist, has pledged to invest $50 million in the Dementia Discovery Fund, a venture capital group that links corporations and governments in the quest to find a cure for the degenerative mental health condition.

The DDF, which was launched in 2015 and involves drugmakers GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Pfizer and Biogen Idec as well as the United Kingdom government, has already invested in at least nine start-up companies investigating potential ways to stop or reverse the biological processes that lead to dementia.

Gates, with his background as the co-founder of Microsoft, believes he can be especially helpful with the data-driven aspect. This amount will be followed by $50 million more in start-up efforts focused on Alzheimer's disease, according to Gates.

Despite decades of scientific research, there is no treatment that can slow the progression of Alzheimer's. Your risk of getting arthritis, Parkinson's, or another non-infectious disease that diminishes your quality of life increases with each year. This would make it easier for researchers to look for patterns and identify new pathways for treatment, he said.

But the disease is not only a growing burden on healthcare systems: the less-quantitative toll on patients' caretakers and families also played a role in Gates' decision.

"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. "I believe we can do the same (or better) with Alzheimer's", wrote Gates.

Mr. Gates said he is optimistic about finding a treatment with focused and well-funded innovation.

Rather going through his usual philanthropic route, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates says this investment is a personal one.

"With all of the new tools and theories in development, I believe we are at a turning point in Alzheimer's R&D", he said.

It is thought that 50% of people who reach their mid-80s will develop Alzheimer's, despite research showing that a third of cases may be preventable if simple lifestyle changes are implemented.

"This is a frontier where we can dramatically improve human life". I'm excited to join the fight and can't wait to see what happens next.

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