Alzheimer’s disease is something that 5 million Americans currently live with, and according to CNN. It costs the country about $259 billion a year and while many drug trials have taken place – more than 400 since 2002- no one has discovered a cure to date. There isn’t even a treatment that can significantly lessen the affects of the debilitating disease.
But Bill Gates hopes to change that.
“I believe there is a solution. Any type of treatment would be a huge advance from where we are today,” he said in an interview with the mega news station.
Why is he interested? Gates has seen the devastation caused by Alzheimer’s first-hand. Many men in his family have developed the disease.
“I’ve seen how tough it is,” he said. “That’s not my sole motivation, but it certainly drew me in.”
Gates is investing $50 million of his own money into something called the Dementia Discovery Fund, which is a private-public research partnership.
The work of the fund looks beyond typical Alzheimer research, which often focuses on reducing the plaque and tangles of proteins that build up in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients, causing the loss of brain function. Gates wants science to consider out-of-the-box solutions, and hopes to push the medical world to discover the driving mechanisms behind dementia, in part by looking at the immune system of our brain cells.
Of course, finding the answer isn’t something that will happen overnight but Gates feels hopeful.
“I’m a huge believer in that science and innovation are going to solve most of the tough problems over time,” he says.
Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease that starts off mild and gets progressively worse, over time. It causes brain cells to die off, resulting in memory loss and weakening brain function. According to the CDC the disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S.
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