Bill Gates has finally joined the fight against Alzheimer’s. The Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist has invested $100 million towards research. The move has been termed as game changer in efforts to combat the condition moving forward.
According to George Vradenburg, president, co-founder, and chairman of UsAgainstAlzheimer’s, a movement that is aiming to stop the disease by 2020, Gates’s contribution will serve to highlight the importance of this movement and the goals that it wants to achieve. Vradenburg is also confident that this contribution will open up more investments towards Alzheimer’s research in the near future.
Many experts who have been involved in Alzheimer’s research have repeatedly noted that funding has been a huge issue. The $100 million investment from the Microsoft co-founder will go a long way in availing resources for research. From the $100 million investment, $50 million will go to the Dementia Discovery Fund. This is a venture capital fund that facilitates collaboration between various industry players and the UK government for developing treatments for this condition.
Gates has noted that the $50 million will come from his own personal pocket and not from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He will invest the remaining $50 million in “less mainstream” ventures that are dedicated towards Alzheimer’s research.
In an interview with Reuters, Gates acknowledged that Alzheimer’s has had a massive financial and emotional impact on the affected patients and their families. He added that the condition has become a big problem and there is a need for more concerted efforts to address it.
The Dementia Recovery Fund was launched back in 2015. The fund works with the UK government in collaboration with drug makers such as Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, Biogen, and Pfizer. It has already provided funding for nine startups engaged in Alzheimer’s research. After confirming his investment, Gates said that he was not sure when a cure will be discovered. He, however, expressed confidence that the investment will play a big part in facilitating major developments in Alzheimer’s treatments over the coming years.
In addition to the $100 million already invested, Gates told Reuters that he would like to award a grant to be used in developing a global data platform on Dementia. The financial impact of Alzheimer’s is huge. The Alzheimer’s Association notes that Americans spend about $259 billion to take care of patients who suffer from the disease. While acknowledging this financial burden, Gates said that if there is no significant intervention to treat the condition, spending on Alzheimer’s will continue to put a strain on future healthcare budgets.
Gates also revealed that he has taken a lot of time studying Alzheimer’s over the past year. To this effect, the billionaire philanthropist said that he had come up with a number of tentative strategies designed to fight it. Gates is banking on early diagnosis as one of the key strategies to dealing with the condition. He also noted that there is a need to understand how the condition unfolds, how to stop it, and how to make it easier for people to enroll in medical trials. Nonetheless, the $100 million investment is a big step and it will really make a difference.