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.