Bill Gates Commits $100 Million for Alzheimer's Fund and Startups

Bill Gates Commits $100 Million for Alzheimer's Fund and Startups

The Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF), first launched in 2015 and run by venture capital firm SV Health, is focused on discovering and developing new therapies that are not in the mainstream for fighting the disease which is expected to affect 1m people in the United Kingdom alone by 2025.

The multi-billionaire philanthropist said finding treatment for Alzheimer's, which affects almost 50 million people worldwide, was particularly urgent since improved medical care meant people were living longer.

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.

Alzheimer's is a form of dementia that affects more than 5 million Americans.

He identified key areas that his investment aims to benefit: understanding how Alzheimer's develops, improving detection and diagnosis, more approaches to stopping the disease, increase access for patients to clinical trials and more availability of established data.

The philanthropist, whose usual focus is on infectious diseases in poorer countries, said Alzheimer's caught his interest partly for personal reasons, and partly because it has so far proved such a tough nut to crack.

"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. "It feels a lot like you're experiencing a gradual death of the person that you knew", he said in a blog post about the dementia investments.

"It's a bad disease that devastates both those who have it and their loved ones", Gates wrote in his blog post.

At least 5 million people in the US are living with Alzheimer's and that number could grow to 16 million by 2050, according to the Alzheimer's Association. Current drugs can do no more than ease some of the symptoms.

"The first Alzheimer's treatments might not come to fruition for another decade or more, and they will be very expensive at first".

The announcement is timely, coinciding with National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month in November. People should be able to enjoy their later years - and we need a breakthrough in Alzheimer's to fulfill that.

In 2015, an estimated 46.8 million people worldwide lived with dementia, a number set to double every 20 years reaching 74.7 million in 2030 and 131.5 million in 2050, according to World Alzheimer's Report 2015. "I'm excited to join the fight and can't wait to see what happens next".

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