Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has reportedly invested $50 million to help fund research that will find a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia.
The Involvement Of Bill Gates
The philanthropist revealed on Monday that he has given $50 million to the Dementia Discovery Fund, which is researching new ways to treat dementia. Gates also plans to invest $50 million more in startups looking into Alzheimer's research.
"It’s a miracle that people are living so much longer, but longer life expectancies alone are not enough," Gates said. "People should be able to enjoy their later years—and we need a breakthrough in Alzheimer’s to fulfill that."
The investment is a personal one by Gates and has not been made through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has made investments in research to stop the spread of HIV and diseases.
Gates has also blogged about Alzheimer’s and said that is a terrible disease that has a devastating effect, both emotionally and financially, not only on the person suffering from it but also their relatives. He mentioned having a personal experience with those having Alzheimer’s as many men in his family have suffered from it.
The philanthropist said that it is awful watching loved ones losing their mental capacity, which literally feels like one is experiencing their gradual death. Gates further added that his family history was not the only reason why he is interested in Alzheimer’s and doing something about it. It was also because he knows how hopeless it can feel if someone or their loved one gets the disease.
Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States of America, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Over five million Americans are afflicted with the disease and the figures could increase to 16 million by 2050.
The disease was first identified by German doctor Dr. Alois Alzheimer and he wrote about it in 1906, describing it as a peculiar disease whose symptoms included psychological changes, severe paranoia, and significant memory loss.
An autopsy on a patient also revealed to the doctor that the disease makes the brain shrink, and there are unusual deposits in and around the nerve cells.
It was only 80 years later, since then, that doctors identified the deposits as plaques and protein tangles called tau and amyloid, and only five years ago that advanced imaging technology could allow researchers to see tau and amyloid in living people.
Most of the mainstream focus in Alzheimer's research has been on tau and amyloid until now. Gates hopes that his donation can help researchers look into other ideas about Alzheimer’s like studying the part of glial cells that activate the brain’s immune system or how a cell’s energy lifespan may contribute to the disease.