Even though there has been decades of scientific research on Alzheimer's, there's no treatment to slow the progression of the disease.
Gates explained that he specifically chose the Dementia Discovery Fund, as the group explores "less mainstream approaches to treating dementia". He also hopes that research will soon deliver better diagnostic tools, like a quick blood test, that can detect the disease sooner.
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The investment is not associated with Gates' Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
However, Gates said, that with well-funded and focused innovation, he was optimistic treatments will be found, even if they are over a decade in the future.
At least 5 million people in the USA are living with Alzheimer's and that number could grow to 16 million by 2050, according to the Alzheimer's Association.
The DDF, which was launched in 2015 and involves drugmakers GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Pfizer and Biogen Idec as well as the United Kingdom government, has already invested in at least nine start-up companies investigating potential ways to stop or reverse the biological processes that lead to dementia.
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Bill Gates tells that the treatment for each and every disease are much advanced this time and can provide a long-term cure for every individual. That's, in part, because it's personal.
"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. People should be able to enjoy their later years - and we need a breakthrough in Alzheimer's to fulfill that.
People with dementia spend five times more annually on out-of-pocket health expenses than those who don't have Alzheimer's, and the disease accounts for direct American health care costs of $259 billion in 2017, with projected growth to $1.1 trillion in 2050, according to the Alzheimer's Association. The drugs approved to treat Alzheimer's are only capable of mitigating symptoms.
Although Alzheimer's now has no cure, Gates expressed hope that the course of Alzheimer's can be substantially altered if progress is made in five key areas.
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"I know how very bad it is to watch people you love struggle as the disease robs them of their mental capacity. It feels a lot like you're experiencing a gradual death of the person that you knew", he wrote. This would make it easier for researchers to look for patterns and identify new pathways for treatment, he said.