Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has announced in a press release that he will invest $50 million in the Dementia Discovery Fund. The fund provides innovative research and investment into new dementia treatments, and brings together charities and industry experts to work towards this common cause.
Bill Gates has pledged to invest this money to help speed up the charities progress into finding new therapies for Alzheimer’s disease, which is the 6th leading cause of death in the US. An estimated 5 million American’s are currently living with the disease, and studies suggest this figure could rise to 16 million by the year 2050.
With the number of Alzheimer’s sufferers rising so rapidly, and with the emotional and financial strain it can put upon sufferers and their families, Bill Gates believes it’s an important issue that needs to be addressed. “It’s a huge problem, a growing problem, and the scale of the tragedy – even for the people who stay alive – is very high,” he said in an interview.
Even after decades of research into treatment, there are still no drugs available to slow down the progression of the disease, only to reduce some of the symptoms. However, it’s thought by the DDF that with more funding and innovation, there’s still hope that an effective treatment could be found in the future.
Gates claims that he believes it could be a decade before a treatment is found, saying that “It’ll take probably 10 years before new theories are tried enough times to give them a high chance of success. So it’s very hard to hazard a guess (when an effective drug might be developed). I hope that in the next 10 years that we have some powerful drugs, but it’s possible that won’t be achieved.”
Experts believe that key areas in need of funding are a better understanding of how the disease develops, finding new approaches to slow its progress, better clinical trials for new medicines, earlier diagnosis techniques and more effective use of data.
Bill Gates believes that his background at Microsoft means he can contribute to effectively collecting data. As well as the $50 million investment in DDF, Gates has also said he’s looking into building a global dementia data platform, which could add a lot of value to the current data by making it easier to identify patterns and research new treatments