from the end-of-an-epidemic dept.
Bill Gates gave an address at J.P. Morgan's 36th Annual Healthcare Conference in San Francisco:
[There] is reason to hope that the insights uncovered in ongoing immunotherapy research for cancer will eventually help us control all infectious diseases. This would be a huge victory for humanity—and potentially a significant market for the life sciences.
Others seem to think so too. Venture capitalists like Bob Nelsen and Bob More have helped raise over $500 million for VIR Biotechnology—including funding from us—to discover and develop treatments for serious infectious diseases.
We are also investors in Immunocore, which is using T-cell technology to help stimulate the body's immune system. Initially, Immunocore's "T-cell receptor" technology targeted cancers, but it could also be applied against infectious diseases.
We are backing companies like CureVac and Moderna on mRNA approaches for vaccine and drug development, which have the potential to help us tackle cancer. This approach is also intriguing as a potential immunological intervention for HIV, malaria, flu and the Zika virus.
And mRNA vaccines are likely to be cheaper, easier, and faster to make than traditional vaccines. This would be particularly helpful in containing epidemics—whether they occur through nature or are the result of an intentional biological attack. Today, it typically takes up to 10 years to develop and license a new vaccine. To significantly curb deaths from a fast-moving airborne pathogen, we would have to get that down considerably—to 90 days or less.
Also at NBF.
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Billionaire Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is to invest $50 million in the Dementia Discovery Fund, a venture capital fund that brings together industry and government to seek treatments for the brain-wasting disease. The investment is not part of Gates' philanthropic Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and will be followed with another $50 million in a number of start-up ventures working in Alzheimer's research, Gates said.
With rapidly rising numbers of people suffering from Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, the disease is taking a growing emotional and financial toll as people live longer, Gates told Reuters in an interview. "It's a huge problem, a growing problem, and the scale of the tragedy - even for the people who stay alive - is very high," he said.
Despite decades of scientific research, there is no treatment that can slow the progression of Alzheimer's. Current drugs can do no more than ease some of the symptoms. 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.