Joining the fight against Alzheimer's, Microsoft Founder Bill Gates on Monday announced a $50 million Dementia Discovery Investment Fund from his personal wealth to find a cure for the brain-wasting disease.
"Of all the disorders that plague us late in life, one stands out as a particularly big threat to society: Alzheimer's disease," said Gates in his blog titled "Why I'm Digging Deep Into Alzheimer's".
"It's a terrible disease that devastates both those who have it and their loved ones," the philanthropist-businessman added.
Alzheimer's is a progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions. Older adults especially are at nearly 50 percent risk of developing the disease.
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.
Although Alzheimer's currently has no cure, Gates expressed hope that the course of Alzheimer's can be substantially altered if progress is made in five key areas.
This includes better understanding about how Alzheimer's unfolds, need to detect and diagnose Alzheimer's earlier, more approaches to stopping the disease, need to make it easier to get people enrolled in clinical trials and need to use data better.
"We've seen scientific innovation turn once-guaranteed killers like HIV into chronic illnesses that can be held in check with medication. I believe we can do the same (or better) with Alzheimer's," Gates said.
"I want to support the brilliant minds doing this work. As a first step, I've invested $50 million in the Dementia Discovery Fund — a private fund working to diversify the clinical pipeline and identify new targets for treatment," wrote the founder of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation while stating that the investment is his own and not through the foundation.
While most of the major pharmaceutical companies continue to pursue the amyloid and tau pathways, Dementia Discovery Fund will complement their work by supporting startups as they explore less mainstream approaches to treating dementia.
"I'm excited to join the fight and can't wait to see what happens next," Gates said.