Bill Gates Wants To Find A Cure For Alzheimer's

Former President Obama Speaks At The Gates Foundation Inaugural Goalkeepers Event

The Alzheimer's Association says more than 5 million Americans are living with the progressive disease, which impairs memory and cognitive function. Drugs such as Aricept, known also as donezepil, can reduce symptoms for a time but they do not slow the worsening of the disease.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has set his sights on solving a new problem: Alzheimer's disease.

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.

Through his investment, Gates said, he hopes to help make progress in better understanding the disease, detecting and diagnosing it sooner, and finding ways to keep it from progressing.

Dementia, of which Alzheimer's is the most common form, affects close to 50 million people worldwide and is expected to affect more than 131 million by 2050, according to the non-profit campaign group Alzheimer's Disease International. Drug companies have invested heavily in the effects of two Alzheimer's-related proteins called amyloid and tau.

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"We've seen scientific innovation turn once-guaranteed killers like HIV into chronic illnesses that can be held in check with medication".

"A more diverse drug pipeline increases our odds of discovering a breakthrough". Since we don't yet have a good understanding of the disease or a reliable diagnostic, it's hard to find qualified people early enough in the disease's progression willing to participate.

Rather going through his usual philanthropic route, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates says this investment is a personal one. "But I'm hopeful. We have much better tools". He said that "any type of treatment would be a huge advance from where we are today, but the long-term goal has got to be cure". "So, yes, I believe there is a solution".

In addition to boosting research into the underlying causes of the disease, Gates identifies four other priority areas that need attention, including improving dementia diagnosis and participation in clinical trials, bringing new ideas and theories into the field, and using the power of big data to speed up research progress.

Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.

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