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Bill Gates Gives Big Donation To Fight Alzheimer's

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Billionaire and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is making a personal investment of $50 million into the Dementia Discovery Fund, a venture capital fund that invests in projects and companies to develop treatments for the brain-wasting disease.

The investment is not part of Gates' philanthropic Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has focused primarily on infectious diseases such as HIV, malaria and polio. In addition, Gates will invest another $50 million in start-up ventures researching treatment for Alzheimer's disease.

Gates believes that with focused and well-funded innovation, treatments can be found even if they might be more than a decade away. Despite decades of scientific research, there is currently no treatment for the disease, though the symptoms of the disease can be eased.

Alzheimer's is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain that causes disruptions in memory, cognition, personality, and other functions. It is the most common form of dementia among people aged 65 and older.

Gates said in a blog post that he first became interested in Alzheimer's because of its costs - both emotional and economic - to families and healthcare systems.

"According to the Alzheimer's Association, Americans will spend $259 billion caring for those with Alzheimer's and other dementias in 2017. Absent a major breakthrough, expenditures will continue to squeeze healthcare budgets in the years and decades to come," Gates noted.

According to the billionaire, while men in his family have suffered from Alzheimer's, it was not the sole reason behind his interest in the disease. His personal experience exposed him to how hopeless it feels when a loved one gets the disease.

An estimated 5.5 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, and this number is projected to rise as high as 16 million by 2050. Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S, according to the Alzheimer's Association.

The development of Alzheimer's drugs has been marred by a high failure rate. A U.S. study, which analyzed how the Alzheimer's clinical trials fared during the period from 2002 to 2012, revealed a failure rate of 99.6 percent compared to a failure rate of 81 percent for cancer drugs.

by RTT Staff Writer

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