Bill Gates puts up $100 million to fight Alzheimer's

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Launched in 2015, the Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF), is operated by SV Health, a venture capital firm, and focused on finding and creating new alternative therapies to combat the disease, which is expected to affect the lives of 1 million people in the United Kingdom over the next six years.

In a statement, Gates says men in his family have suffered from Alzheimer's and that he is hopeful that in time Alzheimer's could be a chronic condition treatable with medication.

The progress of the disease cannot be slowed with current treatments, which at best can only ease the symptoms.

In the new blog post, Gates wrote, "My family history isn't the sole reason behind my interest in Alzheimer's".

"I know how bad it is to watch people you love struggle as the disease robs them of their mental capacity, and there is nothing you can do about it", wrote Gates. There's about a 50/50 chance that anyone who lives beyond 80 years old will develop the disease, and each of these patients spends 500% more on personal health-care costs than those living without dementia. "It feels a lot like you're experiencing a gradual death of the person that you knew".

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The SAB provides ongoing advice and knowledge, offers insights on different approaches and historical failures, suggests priority areas to explore new approaches to treat dementia and advises on strategies to drugging these new pathways. These drugs prevent the buildup of amyloid plaques and tangles of tau proteins before they destroy brain tissue.

The DDF is uniquely positioned to benefit from the expertise of its world-class Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) which includes heads of Neuroscience and/or R&D from seven major pharma companies (Biogen, Eli Lilly and Company, GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Otsuka (Astex), Pfizer and Takeda) and ARUK, who collectively have a large network and experience in neuroscience drug discovery. Equally, the more profound impact of the $100 million Mr. Gates has now donated to find the cure for Alzheimer's is the literal and profound reframing of global public health now and forever defined by the health needs of our aging global society.

And Gates says he can kickstart new approaches.

"This is a frontier where we can dramatically improve human life". A more diverse approach, he believes, will increase the odds of finding one that works. We need to better understand how Alzheimer's unfolds. For more information about his investment, see Gates' interview with CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta, along with a press release from Dementia Discovery Fund.

Gates said, however, that with focused and well-funded innovation, he's "optimistic" treatments can be found, even if they might be more than a decade away.

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