Bill Gates to donate $100 million to fight Alzheimer's


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

Worth an estimated $90 billion, Gates will donate the money separate from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation - which has donated around $44 billion by the end of 2014.

Currently, dementia (the most common form of Alzheimer's) affects almost 50 million people worldwide.

It's a huge problem, a growing problem, and the scale of the tragedy - even for the people who stay alive - is very high.

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 medications can only ease some of the symptoms, at best.

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While Gates understands that potential treatments may still be a decade or more away, he is optimistic that major breakthroughs can happen if progress is made within the five identified pathways.

He said, "It'll take probably 10 years before new theories are tried enough times to give them a high chance of success. I hope that in the next 10 years that we have some powerful drugs, but it's possible that won't be achieved". That number is expected to grow to more than 131 million by 2050, according to the group Alzheimer's Disease International. This fund will be followed up with additional $50 million, which will be doled out for start-up projects working on research study of Alzheimer's disease. But my personal experience has exposed me to how hopeless it feels when you or a loved one gets the disease.

Years have been spent in trying to find treatments for Alzheimer's, but so far, there have been no effective therapies to halt the progression of the disease. He noted that, like millions of fellow Americans, Gates has watched numerous family members suffer from the disease.

"My background at Microsoft and my (Gates) Foundation background say to me that a data-driven contribution might be an area where I can help add some value", he said.